Howdy Folks: How to Navigate the State Fair of Texas Safely
If you jumped for joy earlier this year when the State Fair of Texas announced that they would be holding the fair in its traditional format this season, unlike their revised COVID-friendly drive-thru format last year, you’re not alone. But as the delta variant causes a surge in COVID cases, you may be having second thoughts about taking a stroll down hose historic fairways.
However, you can have your corny dog and eat it too with these tips to stay as safe as possible at the State Fair this year.
Assess Your Personal Risk
During these times, no event can be completely risk-free, despite everyone’s best efforts. That’s why you should first assess your personal health situation when you’re considering whether to attend the State Fair this year. While no one can predict with complete certainty how your body may respond to getting ill with the coronavirus, there are risk factors that can increase the likelihood of severe illness that may require hospitalization.
According to the CDC, the risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age, with older adults at the highest risk. But people of any age with certain underlying medical conditions (which now include pregnancy) are also at increased risk for severe illness from SARS-CoV-2 infection.
The following medical conditions in adults put you at a higher risk of developing severe illness:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic lung diseases (COPD, asthma, interstitial lung disease, etc.)
- Dementia or Alzheimer’s
- Diabetes (type 1 or 2)
- Down syndrome
- Heart conditions
- Liver disease
- Overweight and obesity
- Sickle cell disease
- Smoking (current or former)
- Any condition that causes you to have a weakened immune system
Receiving the COVID vaccine can greatly reduce your likelihood of developing severe illness, even if you fall into the “high-risk” category above. But the best part of getting vaccinated is that it extends far beyond your own personal health and can help protect others as well, such as children under the age of 12 or anyone who cannot get vaccinated for other reasons.
While the State Fair will not be requiring you to show proof of vaccination, or a recent negative COVID-19 test, to enter the Fair, it is encouraged for your safety and the safety of others.
If you can’t get vaccinated before you go to the Fair, though, they’ve partnered up with Dallas County Health & Human Services to offer free vaccinations from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Big Tex Circle every day of the Fair. To show a Texas-sized dose of appreciation, anyone who gets vaccinated at the Fair will receive $20 in food and ride coupons.
Already got your first dose? Dallas County will also have the Moderna vaccine on hand for those who are eligible to receive their second dose.
As of August 25, given the current situation with increasing COVID cases in Dallas County and the current Dallas County order on the Required Use of a Face Mask in Certain Public Space, masks will be required when indoors regardless of vaccination status.
Thankfully most attractions at the State Fair are outdoors — 80% to be exact — but it is also recommended that you wear a mask outdoors in crowded situations. It’s also important to note that some independent vendors may require you to wear a mask when visiting their booth.
This also extends to any public transportation or ride-sharing you may use to get to and from the Fair.
Spread Out, Partner
While there’s plenty of space to stretch your legs across the fairgrounds, any fairgoer can also tell you there are times when you’re stretched for space, if you know what I mean. While the State Fair has created more space in usual high-traffic areas to accommodate for social distancing, if you cannot social distance in certain situations or settings, please wear your mask.
Remember, if one area is busy, busy, busy, you can always circle back or explore new areas of the park — many vendors have booths stretched out across the grounds to help you get your fixin’.
The State Fair also recommends attending on a weekday instead of a weekend if you can. You’ll get some pretty sweet discount admission offers to boot, as well!
Clean Those Hands
Frequent hand washing is still recommended and helps to reduce virus transmission. There will be more than 500 free hand sanitizing stations across the fairgrounds, as well as throughout the barns and livestock areas, but be sure to wash your hands with soap and water any chance you can, as well.
Stay Home If You Feel Unwell
While COVID is still a very real threat to our community, there are also increased cases of other seasonal illnesses such as RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) and the flu that are starting to circulate in our communities again. That’s why it’s important to stay home if you are not feeling well, even if you’re vaccinated and/or not experiencing COVID-related symptoms.
The Fair is around for 24 days, so you’ll have plenty of time to get your fill of fair foods, rides and fun even if you’re feeling a little under the weather. After all, we want you to be as healthy as possible so you can enjoy yourself!