It’s the opposite of "howdy": This year’s State Fair of Texas has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a statement on the event’s website.
The annual Lone Star State destination in Dallas’ Fair Park is a hallmark of Texas pride, from the giant Big Tex figure that greets guests to the bevy of outrageous fried food creations to the livestock show.
"With a heavy heart, we are announcing that the State Fair of Texas will not open for the 2020 season," a statement on the fair’s website reads. "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."
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"This was an extremely tough decision. The health and safety of all involved has remained our top priority throughout the decision-making process," Gina Norris, board chair for the State Fair of Texas, said in a written statement.
Amid the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, "there is no feasible way for the Fair to put proper precautions in place while maintaining the Fair environment you know and love," Norris continued. "While we cannot predict what the COVID-19 pandemic will look like in September, the recent surge in positive cases is troubling for all of North Texas. The safest and most responsible decision we could make for all involved at this point in our 134-year history is to take a hiatus for the 2020 season."
The fair says it will continue to fund the Big Tex Youth Livestock Auction and livestock shows, Big Tex Scholarship Program, Big Tex Urban Farms and community outreach initiatives.
The State Fair of Texas also is a destination for football fans during the annual Red River Rivalry game between the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Oklahoma. That match-up at the Cotton Bowl is still on the Longhorns’ schedule for Oct. 10. Athletic directors for both universities have said that changes to fall football plans are possible.
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According to the fair’s website, it has previously been canceled because of World War I in 1918; planning for the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition and 1937 Pan American Exposition at Fair Park from 1935-1937; and World War II from 1942-1945.
Organizers plan for the fair to return Sept. 24-Oct. 17, 2021.
To read the full statement from organizers and find ticket refund information, go to bigtex.com/covid-19-update.