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'Howdy, folks!': State Fair of Texas is back after 1-year pandemic hiatus. Here's a look at 2021 events, attractions and music

Gates will open on Sept. 24 and the fair will run through Oct. 17, officials said in a release.

DALLAS — Updated at 1:35 p.m. with details of the State Fair of Texas attractions and events.

After canceling the State Fair of Texas in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers announced Wednesday the event would be back in 2021. They also released details about the planned events, attractions and live music lineup for 2021, which includes Clay Walker, Dru Hill, Jack Ingram and more. 

Gates will open on Sept. 24 and the fair will run through Oct. 17, fair officials said in a release.

“This year’s commemorative theme art encompasses the foundation of what the Fair is all about – being together,” said Mitchell Glieber, State Fair of Texas president, in a release. “None of us could have predicted all that the COVID-19 pandemic would bring with it, but we feel so grateful to carry on the State Fair’s 135-year history and welcome everyone back with a warm, ‘Howdy, Folks!,’ this year.

Since January, Fair Park has served as the site of a mass vaccination site for Dallas County. Judge Clay Jenkins announced last week the site will close on Aug. 1 to allow fair officials to prep for their event.

The 2021 theme -- 'Howdy, Folks!' -- reflects the return from virtual gatherings to connecting in person again. 

Last year, the in-person fair was canceled, with a drive through food event and modified livestock shows taking place instead. 

Season tickets for the fair are now on sale, and more ticket information will be release in the coming months. 

The event will follow any CDC, local, state or federal COVID-19 guidelines in effect as it takes place, starting in late September.

Here's a look at what's new and what's back at the 2021 State Fair of Texas. 

Football at the Cotton Bowl Stadium 

The State Fair Classic on Sept. 25 will feature the annual matchup between Grambling State University and Prairie View A&M. 

On Oct. 9, the Red River Showdown will take place between the University of Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners.

Weekend rodeo events

The rodeo is coming back to the State Fair of Texas and is free with your fair admission. It will take place on weekend evenings. 

Rodeo schedule: 

  • Cowboys of Color Rodeo, Sept. 24-25
  • Mexican Rodeo Celebration, Sept. 26
  • State Fair of Texas Youth Rodeo, Sept. 29
  • United Professional Rodeo Association Texas Finals, Sept. 30 to Oct. 2
  • Bull Buckin' Weekend, Oct. 8-9
  • State Fair of Texas Ranch Rodeo, Oct. 15-16

Other attractions and events

  • The Country Roundup will feature animatronic and manual puppetry on the midway; Fiestas de Marionetas will have daily performances at the McDonald's Amphitheater
  • A brand-new ride: Moonraker
  • An exhibit celebrating the fair's 135-year history in the Hall of State
  • A Dia de los Muertos experience at Mundo Latino
  • Nightly fireworks displays and performances at the reflecting pool 
  • Nightly Starlight Parade featuring floats, life-size puppets and performers

Check out a full list of attractions here.

Live music lineup

The 2021 fair will include a lineup of free live music, including 77 different artists and groups ranging across a variety of genres. 

Texas-born Clay Walker will kick off the concert series on Sept. 24 at 8:30 p.m. The following day, as part of the State Fair Classic football game, Dru Hill will perform at 2 p.m. and Black Pumas from Austin will perform at 8:30 p.m.

La Energia Nortena will round out opening weekend Sunday, Sept. 26 at 8:30 p.m. A fill lists of performances is below. 

Main Stage Lineup 

Friday, September 24 

  • Clay Walker8:30 p.m.

Saturday, September 25 

  • Chevy House Party, 12:00 p.m.
  • Dru Hill2:00 p.m.
  • Black Pumas8:30 p.m.

Sunday, September 26

  • Conjunto DIFERENTES De Zacatecas, 2:00; 4:00; 6:00 p.m.
  • La Energia Norteña8:30 p.m.

Monday, September 27

  • Rob Roy Parnell, 4:00; 5:45; 8:30 p.m.

Tuesday, September 28

  • Rathmore, 4:00; 5:45; 8:30 p.m.

Wednesday, September 29

  • The 40 Acre Mule, 4:00; 5:45; 8:30 p.m.

Thursday, September 30

  • Little Joe y La Familia5:30; 8:30 p.m.

Friday, October 1

  • Summer Dean, 5:30 p.m.
  • Shinyribs8:30 p.m.

Saturday, October 2

  • Chevy House Party, 12:00 p.m.
  • Eleven Hundred Springs, 2:00; 4:00; 6:00 p.m.
  • Kevin Fowler8:30 p.m.

Sunday, October 3

  • Chevy House Party, 12:00 p.m.
  • Clay Melton, 2:00; 4:00; 6:00 p.m.
  • Grand Funk Railroad, 8:30 p.m.

Monday, October 4

  • Retrophonics, 4:00; 5:45; 8:30 p.m.

Tuesday, October 5

  • The Imaginaries, 4:00; 5:45; 8:30 p.m.

Wednesday, October 6

  • Squeezebox Bandits, 4:00; 5:45; 8:30 p.m.

Thursday, October 7

  • Brave Combo, 5:30; 8:30 p.m.

Friday, October 8

  • Mike and the Moonpies, 5:30; 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, October 9

  • Hannah Kirby, 2:30 p.m.; other showtimes pending game time
  • Jack Ingram6:00 p.m.
  • Bill Engvall8:20 p.m.

Sunday, October 10

  • Chevy House Party, 12:00 p.m.
  • No Rehearsal, 2:00; 4:00; 6:00 p.m.
  • Sugar Ray8:30 p.m.

Monday, October 11

  • Trevor Douglas, 12:00; 1:30 p.m.
  • Le Freak3:00; 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday, October 12

  • Ron Lawrence and Sazerac Jazz, 4:00; 5:45; 8:30 p.m.

Wednesday, October 13

  • U.S. Marine Jazz Ensemble, 4:00; 5:45; 8:30 p.m.

Thursday, October 14

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Bluegrass Band, 5:30; 8:30 p.m.

Friday, October 15

  • Kraig Parker5:30; 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, October 16

  • Chevy House Party, 12:00 p.m.
  • The Peterson Brothers, 2:00; 4:00; 6:00 p.m.
  • Charley Crockett8:30 p.m.

Sunday, October 17

  • The Powell Brothers, 12:00; 1:30 p.m.
  • The Last Bandoleros3:00 p.m.

Check out the lineups for other stages at the State Fair.

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