Here’s a roundup of virtual and socially distanced ways to enjoy the State Fair of Texas amid COVID-19

Big Tex looms large Oct. 1, 2019, at the State Fair of Texas. 

Due to COVID-19 concerns, the State Fair of Texas was canceled in early July for the first time since World War II.

The fair is scheduled to reopen with its usual activities next year from Sept. 24 through Oct. 17 in Fair Park.

But until then, here are a few ways to enjoy modified, socially distanced versions of the fair.

Big Tex Fair Food Drive-Thru

Fair executives announced Aug. 26 that the 134-year-old event will reopen for drive-thru picnics and photos with Big Tex. Under the new name “Big Tex Fair Food Drive-Thru,” the experience will run on select weekends from late September to mid-October.

To allow for social distancing, tickets will be pre-sold, and guests will be required to wear face masks while interacting with staff and vendors. Big Tex will also wear a mask, of course.

Drive-thru patrons will be allowed into Fair Park during three different time slots. The entire drive-thru experience should take about an hour and a half to complete.

Fairgoers will be required to stay in their vehicles unless using the restroom or taking a photo with Big Tex.

Guests can choose from two ticket options: a fair food and photo package combo or just a photo with Big Tex. The fair food and photo package includes a downloadable professional photo with Big Tex, Fletcher’s Original Corny Dogs and other assorted foods.

Patrons who only wish to get a photo with Big Tex can buy tickets for the photo-only drive-thru scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

For more information or to purchase tickets, you can visit the State Fair of Texas website.

Creative arts virtual contests

A new virtual creative arts contest will be open for online submissions from Monday through Oct. 4.

Every year since 1886, the State Fair has celebrated creativity, and the new virtual contests will allow this tradition to continue from home.

The creative arts contest will feature four arts and crafts categories: themed or decorated mantel or shelf, face masks, sidewalk chalk art and nail art.

The cooking contests that were previously judged based on their taste will now be judged based on decorating and design. The three categories include cake decorating, mini butter sculpture and cookie decorating.

This will be the first time that the State Fair has held a mini butter sculpture contest. The butter sculpture has historically been created by a local sculptor and showcased in the Fair’s Creative Arts Building. But this year, fans from across the state will have the opportunity to win a ribbon for their own butter sculpture.

The new contests are divided into three themes: Celebrating Texas Icons, Big Tex and Texas.

“This year has presented a variety of ways to get creative – both in the way we hold contests and the contest offerings themselves,” said Kathy Bennett, creative arts and special events director, in a State Fair press release. “Whether participants have been competing in the Creative Arts contests for years or they are trying it out for the first time, these new contests offer an opportunity to express their creativity in so many ways.”

The contests are open to people of all ages, with specific age divisions for each category.

Contest winners will be announced Oct. 9. For more information on the contest rules and how to submit entries, you can visit the State Fair of Texas website.

Fletcher’s Original Corny Dogs

The iconic Fletcher’s corny dogs will still be available via Golden Chick drive-thru for a limited time.

Fletcher’s Original Corny Dogs recently announced its partnership with the Richardson-based fast-food chain to carry their original corny dogs through Oct. 25.

“The Golden Chick team has been working diligently alongside us to ensure they are providing the same hand-battered, made-to-order product our fans expect,” Fletcher’s said in a Facebook post.

The Dallas-based family business’ corn dogs are also available through several pop-up events around the Metroplex and at the Big Tex Fair Food Drive-Thru events happening in September and October.

The recent partnership makes the original Fletcher’s corny dogs available in Golden Chick restaurants across Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.

State Fair To Go

Select State Fair food items are now available across the country thanks to State Fair To Go, a new company based in Minnesota.

The company partnered with five Texas companies to sell six fair food classics. Each box is loaded with ingredients and instructions to make the items at home in three steps or less.

Two package options are available to choose from: the Texas Edition and the Minnesota Edition, which is currently sold out.

The Texas Edition includes 1 pound of funnel cake mix, a 2-pound turkey leg, 18 fried oreos, 1 pound of fried okra and cream gravy, 1.5 pounds of seasoned curly fries and five corn dogs. The box runs for $59.95.

The Minnesota Edition ships free in Minnesota, and the Texas Edition ships free in Texas. Overnight shipping is available to all 50 states. For more information, visit the State Fair To Go website.

@CecilLenzen | @ByDavidSilvaR | @DJ_Shaw_

Life and entertainment reporter

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