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Citing Safety Concerns Amid The Ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic, The State Fair Of Texas Will Take The Year Off — Its First Cancellation Since WWII.

The State Fair of Texas, which objectively sucks and has long been in dire need of reform, announced today that it has canceled its 2020 offering due to safety concerns relating to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

This is the first time the beloved annual event has been canceled since World War II, and the eighth overall cancellation in the fair’s 134-year history.

In a brief statement released today, fair officials said the following in regards to its decision to no longer go ahead with its September 25 to October 18 offering as scheduled: “We believe the spirit of the Lone Star state lies in every Texan’s ability to care and look out for their neighbor and it is with this in mind, we have decided to keep our guests, staff, and partners safe and healthy during these uncertain time [sic].”

Additionally, fair brass released an extended statement (find that, along with refunding information, right here), as well as a video (see below) explaining its decision.

The 2020 fair had been set to boast a theme of “Celebrating Texas Icons,” but whether that theme remains in place for the fair’s planned 2021 return — currently set to take place from September 24 through October 17 of next year — remains to be seen.

Interestingly, the University of Texas issued a statement this afternoon announcing that it believes its football team will still play the University of Oklahoma in its annual Red River Showdown at the Cotton Bowl this year.

Dallas mayor Eric Johnson, meanwhile, offered the following statement approving of the move: “I love the State Fair of Texas, and I am saddened that I will not be able to take my family this year. But the State Fair made the safe and responsible decision. COVID-19’s spread is rampant in our community, and public health must come first. We all have to do what it takes to slow this virus so we can save lives and livelihoods and get back to doing what we enjoy.”

The fair’s announced cancellation is just the latest recent blow to the Dallas economy, which has been ravaged by the pandemic already. While the fair itself has long been cagey about its own financial standing despite its being floated by local tax dollars, there’s no doubt that this cancellation will wreak havoc on the vendors it employs on an annual basis, many of which make the bulk of their annual income during the fair’s yearly fall run.

For its part, Fletcher’s Corny Dogs, perhaps the fair’s most iconic vendor, has issued a statement in which it says it “understand[s]” the fair’s decision.

While we here at Central Track have long been outspoken advocates for change in the way the State Fair of Texas operates, we have never been for its outright elimination; rather, we’ve argued that the fair, which positions itself as a beacon for all that is good in Texas, actually try to live up to its own branding.

To that end, we genuinely applaud the fair for making what we’re sure was a difficult (if well-reasoned and well-intentioned) decision, while also recognizing the unfortunate economic situation in which it places the vendors and (underpaid) workers rely on it to get by.

That said, on the (decidedly under-balanced) plus side here, this decision means we don’t have to pretend this year as if putting plastic sunglasses onto a chicken wing is culinary innovation.

The move also means the fair has another year to figure out how it can hire a real Texas cultural icon — Erykah Badu, rather specifically — to be the voice of its own iconic Big Tex mascot.

Goodbye fealty to outdated traditions, and howdy to a brighter future for a beloved institution in dire need of catching up to the times?

We’d sure like to hope! But, then again, this annual event has long made money by promising its audiences false hope, so pardon us for not holding our breath.

(Also, never forget: Big Tex was an inside job.)

Cover illustration by Lucas Buckels.

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