The State Fair of Texas gets most of the fanfare -- as it should; Big Tex is a big deal -- but that annual festivity in Dallas isn't the only event of its kind worth a tip of the ol' Stetson. The 85th annual North Texas Fair and Rodeo saunters with spur-jingling swagger into Denton this month for nine days of midway rides, carnival food, superstar musicians and tiny adorable piglets racing for glory.
From Aug. 18-26, the North Texas Fairgrounds transform into a family-friendly haven of Americana, cowboy showmanship and, yes, delightful kitsch. Rodeo events like bull riding, team roping and barrel racing feature professionals (PRCA), amateurs and younguns under 21. That's not to mention rip-roaring Mutton Bustin' for little ones ages 3-7: It's all the drama of an 8 second ride on a slightly less bullish (and a bit more sheepish) opponent.
Between cheering cowboys and cowgirls kicking up dust, meet the newly crowned Rodeo Queen court, browse photography and art exhibitions and see farm animals from pigs, steers and sheep to geared-up goats frolicking at the livestock show. Feast on cotton candy and deep fried delicacies on the Midway, take your chances at winning a carnival game prize and feel like a sixth grader falling in love for the first time under bulb lights and summer night skies.
The nightly live music lineup will impress a range of music lovers, offering superstar acts at county fair prices. Catch country music legends Travis Tritt and Tracy Byrd or hotter-than-a-pistol headliners like Josh Abbott, Ryan Bingham and La Energia Norteña. They're bolstered a second outdoor stage by beloved local talent such as Zane Williams and national touring tribute band EagleMania.
Aug. 18-27 at North Texas Fairgrounds, 2217 N. Carroll Blvd., Denton. $15 and up for adults; free for kids 6 and under. Visit ntfair.com for full schedule and details on the parade, tractor pulls, beauty pageants, Swifty Swine Swimming and more.