Although the 2015 State Fair of Texas is coming to a close, its success will continue to impact the community long after Big Tex bids his final farewell for the year. Thanks to record participation from loyal fairgoers, the State Fair is breaking new ground with its nonprofit initiatives. Proving to be the most successful year in Fair history, the 2015 event brought big crowds and an even bigger community impact. With the majority of funds going to participating vendors, the Fair generated in excess of $52 million in coupon sales for food and rides – an all-time record, making the event the most successful in its 129-year history.
The 2015 State Fair delivered unprecedented results with record-setting crowds, coupon sales, scholarship donations, and community contributions. This year’s records serve as proof of the Fair’s continuous growth, however the measurement of success goes far beyond these numbers. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization the Fair aims to support the community, both locally and statewide. The net proceeds from the Fair are reinvested in Fair Park, in the form of capital improvements; given as scholarships to deserving youth throughout the state of Texas; used to support Fair Park museum facilities and community outreach programs; and used to improve the State Fair’s operation. A successful 24-day run for the Fair means more support for the surrounding community.
With a $10 million increase over 2014’s record total in coupon sales, the proceeds from this year’s Fair will provide more support to the local community than ever before. When broken down into separate components, the Fair itself is a collection of small businesses – comprised of independent vendors, concessionaires, ride owners and operators, artists, entertainers and more. The Fair partners with a wide variety of entrepreneurs, giving them the opportunity to operate their individual businesses here in Fair Park for the event’s 24-day run. By showcasing small businesses and providing job opportunities to more than 6,000 seasonal employees every year, the Fair encourages economic growth in the surrounding area. With an estimated overall economic impact of more than $600 million, the Fair plays a significant role in the community. “The State Fair of Texas has always been an important event to the City of Dallas because of its impact on the local economy, tourism and job force,” adds Dallas City Councilwoman Tiffinni A. Young. “With the increased focus on the future of Fair Park, I am proud that the Fair was extremely successful and will set big records in almost every category this year.”
Bringing the traditional lineup of food, festivities and family fun, the 2015 State Fair also threw a few new additions into the mix. The Hall of State hosted the “Big Texas Music” exhibit, honoring well-known artists hailing from the Lone Star State. Mundo Latino presented “Guitarras de Mexico” as its annual exhibit in the Women’s Museum, highlighting the history of guitars, guitar makers and guitarists. Celebrating the rich history of our great state, the Lone Star Horse Spectacular featured professional riders on horseback performing in coordination with a historical narrative. Crowds gathered nightly for the completely remastered Mattress Firm Illumination Sensation, a display of dancing waters, special effects, lively music and vibrant fireworks. For the first time ever, the Bud Light Sound Stage and Dr Pepper Stage both featured rotating acts in their musical lineup. Free concerts on the Chevrolet Main Stage remained a fairgoer favorite, with the largest crowds at Pesado, Lecrae, The Beach Boys, MercyMe, Jay Perez and Emilio. Community members got crafty with more than 8,900 entries in the Fair’s Creative Arts competitions. Another State Fair staple was the largest new car auto show in the Southwest, giving visitors the chance to check out the hottest 2016 models. Big Tex’s Farmyard found a new home near the Kids’ Boardwalk, providing visitors with interactive exhibits focusing on the importance of agriculture. Fairgoers flocked to participating vendors on Thrifty Thursdays, the newest food discount program which offered a variety of signature menu items at a reduced price.
Originally established as a livestock exposition back in 1886, it is without question that the Fair has deep roots in agriculture. Acknowledging the significance of farming and ranching in Texas’ past, present and future, the Fair continues to promote agricultural growth through its large number of educational opportunities. From its interactive exhibits explaining how food gets from farm to table, to the variety of competitive livestock events and leadership contests, the Fair encourages all visitors to learn more about agriculture. With a 13% increase from last year, the 2015 State Fair hosted a total of 10,722 livestock entries. Overall participation numbers increased by 32%, with 5,528 students competing in the Fair’s livestock and agricultural shows. The annual Youth Livestock Auction raised more than $1.5 million in scholarships and prizes for students from around the state. Another record was set when III Forks Steakhouse and the Big Tex Champion Club purchased the Grand Champion Market Steer for $130,000 at the auction. The Fair’s Ag Awareness Day also brought record numbers – with more than 7,700 students representing 169 chapters of 4-H, FFA and FCCLA participating in the canned food drive, a total of 23,896 pounds of food were collected and donated to the North Texas Food Bank.
With education, agriculture and community involvement at the heart of every decision, the State Fair passionately pursues opportunities to expand and build upon its mission. Connecting all three of these components, the Fair’s Youth Scholarship Program supports students attending schools in the Fair Park area, as well as students across the state pursuing a future in agriculture. Over its 23 year history, the Youth Scholarship Program has awarded college scholarships to more than 1,600 students for a total of more than $4.5 million. Hoping to increase participation and reach more students by making applications more accessible and user-friendly, the Fair is excited to announce that applications are now available online for the first time ever. Offering an earlier start date than ever before, the Fair encourages high school seniors to go online to BigTex.com/scholarship and apply now for a 2016 scholarship!
Through its partnerships with charities like Canstruction and the North Texas Food Bank, the Fair is able to accomplish two goals simultaneously – supporting the community and providing fairgoers with quality entertainment. Thanks to Kroger and the North Texas Food Bank, visitors had the chance to participate in the “It’s a Fair Deal” program and attend the Fair for $4 on Wednesdays. By donating four cans of food, fairgoers could enter the gates at a significant discount, with all donations going to feed local families in need. Through these weekly specials, along with the Coca-Cola promotion on Opening Day and the canned food drive held on Ag Awareness Day, the State Fair set another record with a grand total of 303,298 pounds of food – all of which has been donated to the North Texas Food Bank. Thanks to fairgoers who participated in these community efforts, this year’s total number of cans collected translates into 221,229 meals. Returning after its 2014 State Fair debut, the Canstruction exhibit once again served as one of the Fair’s free attractions. Guests of all ages enjoyed the beautiful structures created entirely of canned food, all of which will be divided and donated to the North Texas and Tarrant Area Food Banks. Through its partnership with Canstruction, the State Fair collected a total of 191,544 cans, compared to the 159,213 in 2014.
“From deep in our hearts, we thank all of you for making the 2015 State Fair of Texas a Fair to remember,” says Mitchell Glieber, State Fair president. “The past 129 years serve as a testament to the importance and value of tradition, while this year’s success shows that innovation and change are equally valuable and can be used to build upon longtime traditions. The State Fair of Texas has brought people together since 1886, and looks forward to celebrating its 130th anniversary next year.”
The success of this year’s Fair would not be possible without the continuous support of fairgoers. Visitors include lifelong fans and first-time guests, coming from both near and far to experience the 129-year tradition. From the familiar faces of those returning for their annual trip to the Fair, to new Texas transplants who are visiting the Fair for the first time, each and every guest contributes to the Fair’s community impact simply by attending the event. Attracting visitors of all ages, the Fair means something different to each person who steps on the grounds, yet one sentiment seems to be universal among all age groups – the Fair is something people hold very near and dear to their hearts. The State Fair of Texas is honored to host so many visitors year after year and hopes to see you at the 2016 exposition, running September 30 through October 23.
# # #
About the State Fair of Texas
Since its inception in 1886, the State Fair of Texas has celebrated all things Texan by promoting agriculture, education, and community involvement through quality entertainment in a family-friendly environment. The State Fair of Texas is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with proceeds helping to preserve and improve Fair Park and underwrite museum, community and scholarship programs for inner city youth and students pursuing agricultural careers. The 2016 exposition runs September 30 through October 23 in Fair Park. Visit BigTex.com for more information.