It is no secret that every year, the State Fair of Texas attracts millions of people around the globe to Fair Park. Rides on the Midway, the Big Tex Choice Awards, live music, the Texas Auto Show, livestock shows, and so much more bring friends and families together for 24 days of fun and entertainment. But many people are surprised when they learn that behind the scenes, Big Tex and his team at the State Fair of Texas work hard year-round to give back to the community. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent cancellation of the 2020 State Fair event, the State Fair of Texas was still able to give back to the community in 2020 through scholarships, grants and sponsorships, and fundraising events.
The State Fair of Texas celebrates all things Texan by promoting agriculture, education, and community involvement through quality entertainment in a family-friendly environment.
When current President Mitchell Glieber was appointed in 2014, he was steadfast on including community involvement as a pillar of the mission statement, highlighting all the work the State Fair does outside of Fair season to support its vendors, Fair Park, and the surrounding South Dallas community.
“The Fair is more than just a fun 24-day event that we host each year. Our team supports everyone, from fairgoers to the community around us. It was important to capture our work in the community along with agriculture and education that were already rooted in our mission statement,” said Glieber.
As a nonprofit, one of the State Fair’s proudest initiatives is awarding scholarships each year. The Big Tex Scholarship Program was established in 1992 and has since awarded nearly $15 million to more than 3,000 students throughout the Lone Star State. Eligible recipients include graduating seniors in the youth livestock events held during the Fair – which awarded an additional one million dollars in scholarships and prizes in the year 2020 – graduating seniors from six Dallas ISD schools, as well as seasonal employees or their dependents. The Fair also uses proceeds from the Big Tex Clay Shoot Classic, Big Tex Golf Classic, Big Tex Champion Club Dinner, and Big Tex Youth Livestock Auction to help fund the Big Tex Youth Livestock Auction and Scholarship Programs. To learn more about the Scholarship Program and opportunities, visit BigTex.com/Scholarship.
The State Fair of Texas also works to give back through community involvement and engagement with several initiatives led by Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew, the Fair’s vice president of community affairs and strategic alliances. Despite the ongoing pandemic during 2020, more than $600,000 was donated in community support through sponsorships, support programmatic through funding, in-kind donations, technical assistance, and investments in signature programs to nearly 60 South Dallas and Fair Park organizations for project funding grants. The Fair also hosts a Community Engagement Day that works to bring nonprofits together to share resources and build their social capital. The State Fair works hard to serve more than 70,000 people in the community each year.
“The involvement and engagement we have within our community is extremely important. It’s more than just monetary donations – we provide programs and services that allow us to give back in more ways than one,” said Dr. Booker-Drew. “We are a part of a number of community initiatives that support and educate capacity building for nonprofits, economic development, and racial and social justice. Advocacy in these areas is essential to our work and is most successful through collaboration with our partners and neighbors.”
Through the Nonprofit Infrastructure Initiative (NPII), the State Fair in partnership with United Way aims to strengthen nonprofits operating and serving clients in Southern Dallas. The NPII facilitated 10 local nonprofits in 2020 in learning about fundraising, strategic planning, program measurement, and other fundamental concepts. In 2021, the State Fair co-sponsored the SPRING/SUMMER 2021 SPEAKER SERIES for nonprofits. While providing educational support to fellow nonprofits, the State Fair of Texas also provides educational support to students through the P-Tech programs with Lincoln and Madison. The State Fair also established in 2016 the Girl Power Program which provides social emotional learning to help young women utilize their power for change in their communities.
The Fair is passionate about giving back to the place we have called home since 1886, so every year we invest and support the development of Fair Park, so it thrives year-round. Every year, a portion of the net proceeds from the Fair are reinvested in Fair Park in the form of capital improvements, support of Fair Park museum facilities and community outreach programs. In addition, a portion of the revenue is reinvested into Fair Park to go specifically towards maintenance of historic buildings and the Cotton Bowl Stadium located in Fair Park.
Along with all the efforts made to give back to the community each year, the State Fair continues giving back through partnerships like one with the North Texas Food Bank. Each year discount programs encourage fairgoers to bring canned goods in exchange for a discounted admission. All proceeds are then donated to the North Texas Food Bank. In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fair donated a portion of the proceed from the Big Tex Fair Food Drive to the North Texas Food Bank. The Fair also sponsored a new program called Serve Southern Dallas that highlights nonprofits who support the most vulnerable families, individuals, and businesses in Southern Dallas who were deeply affected by the pandemic. To learn more, visit servesoutherndallas.org
On National Nonprofit Day, the State Fair of Texas is proud to share its efforts in the community, in addition to those of other nonprofits in the Dallas area as well. It is together that we are able to make the largest impact on our community here in South Dallas. For more information on State Fair of Texas initiatives, visit BigTex.com/AnnualReport or for a list of nonprofits in the Dallas area you can support, please visit ServeSouthernDallas.org.
If you’d like to support the State Fair of Texas’s mission-related initiatives, please BigTex.com/Donate or come out and visit the us this fall during our largest fundraiser of the year. The State Fair of Texas gates open Friday, September 24 and the event runs through Sunday, October 17.