It’s that time of year again. While by now those of you going to the game probably have a game plan on what to do on Friday night, the planning for Saturday morning is arguably more important. This year, Red River is again back to its traditional 11 AM slot, so maximizing your time at the fair is paramount.
The hungover early morning stumble to get to the fair can be quite the hassle. Between the crowds, the heat, acquiring Coupons (more on that) and handling a head splitting hangover while simultaneously trying to pregame is a lot to juggle in just a few short hours.
Thankfully, that’s where we at The Schooner Blog come in. Through years of grizzled Red River experience and hours (okay, maybe a few minutes) of research, we have compiled everything you need to be State Fair ready.
The first and most important thing to know about the Fair is none of the vendors accept cards or cash. What you’ll need instead are Coupons, these weird little tickets sold in massive strips. Each coupon is worth 50 cents, so you’ll want to load up. For example, one standard beer is typically worth 12 Coupons, so don’t worry about overbuying. If anyone is trying to give any extras, you jump on them ASAP. Even if you don’t end up using them, Coupons roll over annually so you can save for next year, if you play your cards right. If you want, you can even go ahead and get some right now and skip the line.
Look, I know DART gets an awful rep for its inability to handle traffic leaving the game. However, if you plan on staying at the Fair after the game no matter what, it is for sure the move.
Even if you are fully in Sad Boi Hours, the fair is the best place to drown your sorrows. It’s even better to celebrate in while letting your travel related worries just melt away.
Eating at the Fair
The Timeless, ‘Must Have’ Classic
While some of the most insane food creations in the world can be found here, let me implore you to skip the temptation of items like the Funnel Cake Bacon Queso burger. The best food item here is the Fletcher’s Corny Dog. Now, the Corny Dog is not to be confused with the generic, average corn dogs found throughout the Fair. This piece of heaven on a stick has been around for 77 years and is, hands down, the greatest food item I can think of.
The lines are absurdly long, but missing out on this experience would leave your OU-Texas weekend incomplete. The main Fletcher’s stand is right under Big Tex, the massive talking cowboy statue that’s impossible to miss, but there are plenty around Fair Park with shorter lines. The legendary @SoonerTracker on Twitter even created this handy map of not only all the places where you can find Fletcher’s, but the best places for beer as well.
Big Tex Choice Award Picks
Each year, new contenders step up to the plate to take home one of the most prestigious titles of them all: the Big Tex Choice Award. While there are only three winners (Best Taste Savory, Best Taste Sweet and Most Creative), most of the finalists are just as good if not better. Here’s a look at what won this year.
(You can map out the locations of these items and many more here!)
Best Taste (Savory): Ruth’s Stuffed Fried Taco Cone
One of the most important features of any Fair Food item is easily transportability. This fried taco cone is made up of “tender, savory, marinated, slow-cooked barbacoa served in an ice cream cone-shaped tortilla shell with black beans and cilantro lime rice. It is topped with pico de gallo, queso fresco, and homemade salsa verde”. Honestly, this looks fantastic and is something I certainly would get.
Best Taste (Sweet): Big Red Chicken Bread
Honestly, I’m not a big sweets guy. However, this dish appeals to me, not just because of the chicken wing, but BECAUSE THE WING IS WEARING TINY GLASSES. That is the coolest thing ever! According to BigTex.com, this dish features “homemade, light, fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth, Big Red® -flavored frosting, and served with a savory fried chicken wing resting in the middle of the doughnut”. If you want something different, check this out!
Drinking at the Fair
The Cotton Bowl, for presumably the first time is selling beer in the stands. With that being said, if you want to save a bit of cash drinking in the Fair might be the better move.
Beer prices vary, but there is one mythical stand with 6 Coupon beers known as The Beer Barn just inside Cotton Bowl Plaza. You can get Coors Banquet, Coors Light, Miller Lite, Corona and most importantly, Shiner Bock.
If you have are a bit of a beer snob like myself, check out the Magnolia Beer Garden. This place has an expansive selection of beer from across Texas and the world. If you want to attempt to look cultured to your girlfriend or group of friends, head over to the Wine Garden, which features over 40 wineries from the State of Texas. There are plenty other beer and wine gardens around the fair (including Yardbirds, where the legendary Corn Dog beer makes its return for 2019) but these are the highlight locations.
If you want to stick to wax cup Coors Light, more power to you. There are attractions for those that don’t want to just drink, but hey, that’s just not me at this point in time. The Texas Star, a 200+ foot ferris wheel that ranks as the third largest in the nation, is a trip that could be pretty cool. However, I’d prefer to spend my time on the ground and drinking.
If you somehow survive a full day at the fair from an 11 AM kickoff to make it to the late night show, Big and Rich with Cowboy Troy are playing, so basically if you are an enormous fan of the College Gameday intro, this is absolutely the show for you. Otherwise…why?