Suffice to say the State Fair of Texas is a pretty big deal. Dallas’ Fair Park welcomes nearly 2.4 million fairgoers each year. Those attendees spend about $56 million on admission and tickets to play Midway games, ride rides, marvel at the latest car and truck models and explore uncharted fried food territory.
And that’s not even the half of it! Many visitors also keep up their own fair traditions and rituals, from cheering on kitchen competitors to snapping a photo with Big Tex. In other words, fall simply isn’t fall in Texas without the State Fair.
Among those much-beloved traditions is the Fair’s Opening Day Parade, which winds through Downtown Dallas and gives everyone a chance to see and be seen.
This year’s parade kicks off at noon on Friday, Sept. 29, starting at the corner of Houston and Main Streets and ending at the intersection of Main and Good-Latimer Expressway. There’s no shortage of prime vantage points along this route.
For families who want to get a glimpse of all the floats, bands, baton-twirlers and guests of honor, Main Street Garden (1902 Main St.) is a fantastic option. You’ll be close to the action, not to mention free Wi-Fi, a play area for young children, a dog run, several fountains, public art installations and — if the festivities sharpen your appetite — several nearby eateries.
In fact, Urban Coffee, Amazing Wraps, Altoni’s, NOLA Brasserie, One Main Place, Wing Bucket, Purple Onion, Bread Zeppelin and Wild Salsa all dot the parade route. If you’re able to get a window seat, you can enjoy the show while taking in a quick lunch.
Another primo spot is to be found at Pegasus Plaza, located at City Center (1500 Main St.). It’s easy to find thanks to the big, neon-lit winged horse — the corporate mascot for Mobil Oil that’s since become a universally recognized (if unofficial) city symbol — perched atop the adjacent Magnolia Hotel. Though modest in size, the park tells an epic story from Greek mythology through its use of innovative landscaping features. Sit back, relax and enjoy the scene.
Belo Garden (1014 Main St.) offers an even more verdant setting from which to take in the parade. This urban oasis offers plenty of space for sitting in the sun — or the shade of the many native tree species planted there. And kids will get a kick out of playing in the Fountain Plaza.
You can also catch the parade from several historic Downtown sites, including the JFK Memorial (646 Main St.), the Old Red Museum (100 S. Houston St.), the flagship Neiman Marcus department store (1618 Main St.), St. Jude Chapel (1521 Main St.) and the old Dallas Hilton, the first hotel built by Conrad Hilton to bear his personal brand. This 14-story brick structure opened in 1925 and Hilton made it his headquarters for over a decade. The building itself is now home to the Dallas Hotel Indigo (1933 Main St.).
Finally, if you’re willing to wait for the very end of the parade, situate yourself at Main and Good-Latimer, just under the big neon sign welcoming visitors to “Deep Ellum, Texas.” Even unlit, it makes for a great photo op, especially if the World Famous Wheelie-ing Elvi happen to be coming around the corner.
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