November 3, 2014

A record year for the Texas State Fair in 2014. They say everything is bigger in Texas, and this year’s Texas State Fair seems to have only furthered that notion. In an unprecedented volume, the annual event set records for sales of both ride tickets and food products during its 24 day run in 2014, according to NBC Dallas affiliate KXAN.  This is certainly good news for organizers of the event, the chefs who had their products displayed during it’s duration and the local Texas economy. Plus,  there’s much to be learned for Texas culinary arts students by looking at some of the finer points of the big picture. To be clear, this event is almost always a success (unsurprising, to some degree, in a state with as much pride as this one), but its growth this year was truly astronomical. Take a look at some of the factors and figures that played into this recent expansion in sales:

The facts
The Texas State Fair operates on a coupon system, meaning that patrons of the event purchase tickets from vendors at the fair site. These slips can then be redeemed for either rides or food, and operate as a sort of alternative cash within the festival grounds. The previous record for coupon sales, according to KXAN, was set in 2010, when the event logged $37.3 million in sales. This year, the fair gained nearly $4 million in revenue with a total of more than $41 million.

While the event has often had a charitable focus in years past, this time around brought that effort to new heights by offering a financial benefit to those willing to do their part to help the needy. The event runs for more than three weeks, and each Wednesday this year offered a reduced admission; patrons who brought canned food to donate to local shelters and charities received their entrance for a mere $3. The promotion was available to those who brought three or more cans of food, and was a resounding success. This offer, known to fairgoers as “It’s a Fair Deal,” paired with Agriculture Awareness Day to bring in more than 242,000 pounds of canned food, reports D Magazine. This is a record for the fair and also represents a stark 18 percent increase from the amount donated by attendees last year. The entirety of these donations will go to benefit the North Texas Food Bank and Tarrant Area Food Bank.

Unheard of food sales
While the overall food and ride coupon sales set a new record, one sub-factor seems to stand out among the rest.  The funnel cake ale, which was dubbed the ”original state fair brew,” became the first item in the history of the fair to sell out before the event closed down on its 24th evening. To offer some perspective to that statistic, the event has been running for well over a century, having first started in 1886. The ale was also the winner of the Most Creative Award at the annual 2014 Big Tex Choice Awards.