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Around late September or early October, the Fair Park in Dallas, Texas becomes a haven of activity for visitors hoping to see cowboys, eat some fantastic food, and take a ride on the enormous Ferris wheel.

The State Fair was first held in Fair Park in 1886, and is thought to be the largest state fair in America, with over 3 million people attending the fair each year. It runs for 24 days, weather permitting, and rough estimates claim that the fair contributes around 350 million dollars US to Dallas’ economy.

In 1952, a giant cowboy statue of 52 feet tall was added to the fair grounds as the State Fair’s symbol, and was given the name ‘Big Tex’. Appropriately, one of the fair’s main attractions is an annual football game between the colleges of Texas and Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl; its nickname – and presumably, sponsor – is “The AT&T Red River Rivalry”.

With over 300,000 square feet of space, the State Fair of Dallas is the only fair in the United States to feature a full-scale auto show, with multiple buildings and hundreds of vehicles on display for visitors to browse, admire, and ask questions about. Because of the auto show’s success at the fair, many vehicle manufacturers now choose the State Fair as a debut location for their new model launches, such as the 2007 Chevy Tahoe and the 2007 Ford Sporttrac.

The park’s Ferris wheel “Texas Star” is also considered to be the largest in North America, and although it helps to draw in the crowds to the Fair, there was one tragic incident in 1955 when a teenager from the Memphis High School marching band was killed after one of the wheel’s cars broke loose, plummeting to the ground. However, it didn’t seem to affect attendance the following year, when 26,000 teens flocked to see Elvis play at the largest outdoor concert in Texas at the time.

Known for its wide choices of high-fat – but very tasty – fair foods, the State Fair of Dallas has continued to be a success each year, due to the efficient organization and focus on catering to the interests of visitors.