DALLAS — In two weeks, the biggest show in Texas gets underway as the annual State Fair continues a tradition that began in 1886 and has grown from attendance of around 100,000 fun-seekers to more than two million people enjoying an incredible lineup of events and attractions.

After being cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this always highly-anticipated extravaganza will run from Sept. 24 through Oct. 17 at Dallas’ Fair Park, home of the famed Cotton Bowl stadium, where the University of Texas Longhorns football team squares off against the Oklahoma Sooners on Oct. 9 in the annual Red River Shootout.

Along with such things as carnival rides, concerts, rodeo action, petting zoo, an after-dark parade, magic shows, livestock birthing, celebrity chefs, a backyard circus, auto show, the Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial and much more, something the Fair is known for is its vast assortment of unusual and world-famous food.

Get ready to sink your teeth into such delicacies as fried ice cream, fried Coke, fried cookie dough and fried banana split. Save room for some chicken fried bacon, deep-fried butter, deep-fried peaches and cream, fried beer and fried bubble gun. No visit would be complete without chomping down on a nice fried bacon cinnamon roll, fried Thanksgiving dinner, fried Jell-o, a funnel cake bacon queso burger, cotton candy taco or a fried peanut butter, jelly and banana sandwich.

Pass the Pepto, please.

A grand total of five stages will feature live music throughout the Fair, including such performers as: Clay Walker, Dru Hill, Black Pumas, Little Joe y La Familia, Kevin Fowler, Grand Funk Railroad, Mike and the Moonpies, Sugar Ray, Jack Ingram, Bill Engvall, Two Tons of Steel, Conjunto Cats, Whitney Rose and dozens more.

Fair Park is a 277-acre tract registered as a Dallas Landmark and National Historic Landmark, located about two hours north of Killeen-Fort Hood at 3809 Grand Avenue.

For information on tickets and other details, including season passes and discounts, go to bigtex.com.

While you are in town, consider a trip over to the Dallas Zoo, a 106-acre facility located three miles south of downtown.

Along with lions and tigers and bears, oh my, the zoo is home to such exotic creatures as: South African Bush Elephant, Eastern Black Rhinoceros, South African Cheetah, Reticulated Giraffe, Grant’s Zebra, Nile Hippopotamus, African Penguin, Western Gorilla, Meerkat, Common Warthog, Mandrill, Thomson’s Gazelle, Gemsbok, Okapi, African Wild Dog, Somali Wild Ass, African Penguin, Great Horned Owl, Cougar, Masai Ostrich, crocodiles, zebras, reptiles from all across the world and more.

The zoo has a gift shop with apparel, stationery, posters, jewelry, games, toys, nature books and stuffed animals. There are several restaurants on the grounds, including:

Prime Meridian Café — salads, sandwiches, burgers, pizza, Farmers Brothers Coffee and more.

Serengeti Grill — gourmet burgers, salads, kids’ meals, chicken tenders.

Bantu Barbecue — slow-smoked meats, draft beer, fresh-brewed sweet iced tea.

Several snack stands scattered throughout the zoo offer ice cream, pretzels, Dippin’ Dots, cotton candy, popcorn, sodas, beer and other items. Guests may also pack a picnic, bringing their own food and drinks to enjoy at provided picnic tables and benches. Be aware that there are no facilities to store food or coolers, and glass items, alcoholic beverages and single-use straws are not allowed (for the safety of the animals).

Officials also remind the public to follow zoo rules that include:

Don’t scream, yell, tease or taunt the animals.

Don’t tap on glass windows.

Don’t climb on railings, fences, gates and picnic tables.

Don’t feed the animals.

Don’t toss anything into the habitats.

Follow the public paths.

Pick up after yourself.

The Dallas Zoo is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Masks are required for anyone older than two years while visiting indoor areas. For tickets and other information, go to www.dallaszoo.com.

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