State Fair of Texas Ferris Wheel



Creative Arts at The State Fair of Texas


As y’all know from this post, it’s State Fair of Texas time….one of the most wonderful times of the year!  And, for as long as I can remember, I have been obsessed with Creative Arts.  Yes, I love the food, and the livestock, and of course Big Tex.  But, for years, I would literally spend hours in the Creative Arts Building, admiring the thousands of prize-winning entries.  Until one day…..I decided to join in on the fun!

So what does it take to become a ribbon winner at the State Fair of Texas.  Here’s the behind-the-scenes scoop you will need to become a ribbon winner yourself.


Ribbon Winners: State Fair of Texas Style


Ribbon Winners Knit Big Tex Blue Ribbon


In late Spring, be on the lookout for the Creative Arts Handbook to be published on-line!  Inside, you will find a jillion different contests you can enter, ranging from painting, to jelly, from needlepoint, to pottery.  According to the State Fair of Texas website, “A quintessential element of the State Fair of Texas, the Creative Arts Building serves as a showcase for all the winning entries in each of the various competitions, as well as the location for daily contests throughout the run of the Fair. With MORE THAN 1,100 PRE-FAIR CATEGORIES IN 12 DIFFERENT DEPARTMENTS, the Creative Arts competitions offer endless opportunities for amateurs of all ages, as well as professionals. Contest departments include: art, ceramics, designer-craftsman, dolls, foods (canning), hobby collections, holiday corner, needlepoint and cross stitch, needlework and sewing, afghans, quilts, rugs and bedspreads, photography and scale modeling. ” 

All hopefuls  must fill out a registration form for each item you plan to enter, and there’s a tiny fee you pay as well.  Most entries are accepted in July, so I’d suggest planning ahead, and entries are delivered in person to the Creative Arts building.  There are folks who mail in their entries….from ALL OVER THE COUNTRY….and even overseas…..I honestly thought only Texans did/could enter…but that’s not the case.  Then, all you can do is sit back and wait and hope the Judges find your entry worthy of a ribbon!

Here’s some ribbon winners right in my own back-yard.

As y’all know from this post, I love to needlepoint.  The needlepoint winners’ fabulous creations amaze me every single year, and many of my friends, including Katherine Roberts and Shannon Bradford, are MAJOR ribbon winners!


Ribbon Winners Santa and Reindeer Needlepoint

Katherine Roberts’ fabulous Winning Entry! PC: Katherine Roberts


Ribbon Winners Framed Needlework Purple and Blue Ribbons

Shannon Bradford’s amazing Winning Entry! PC: Shannon Bradford


Ribbon Winners Needlepoint Santa Pot Red Ribbon

The Curious Cowgirl has a Winning Entry too!


But…there’s so much more to Creative Arts than needlepoint.  Have you heard of Glue-A-Shoe?  According to Kathy Bennett, Director of Creative Arts, who has over 35 years of experience in leading the Creative Arts Team, this hotly contested, and highly creative contest has been around for the past fifteen years.  The idea is to use any kind of shoe as the basis for tongue-in-cheek creations….transforming the shoe into a humorous work of art.  Kathy knows a contestant who lines up shoes on his mantle, and considers them until inspiration strikes.  That’s dedication, y’all!

My friends are ribbon winners, and Katy Koenig and Meredith Mabus are two of the most creative people I know!  Check out their amazing ribbon winning entries!


Ribbon Winners Glue A Shoe Judge with Entry

Katy’s Shoe Willow Platter…can you spot the flip-flop? PC: Carol Vig


Ribbon Winners Judge with Corn on the Clog

Meredith’s Corn-on-the-Clog….love it! PC: Carol Vig


Ribbon Winners Meredith Mabus

YAAASSS!!! That’s a Ribbon Winner right there friends! PC: Carol Vig


Kathy Bennett shared that the Painting Contest has the highest number of entries, in both the adult and youth categories.


Ribbon Winners Painting Winners


Creative Arts places special emphasis on getting kids involved.  Whether it’s encouraging them to create their own art, or getting kids in the kitchen, Creative Arts has opportunities for kids of all ages!

Be sure and check out the Kids Can Cook competitions!  Celebrity chefs guides kids through the basics of navigating a kitchen, and the via the Children’s Cook Off “Dinner’s On Me” Competition, kids receive a bag of groceries and have three hours to come up with a recipe and prepare a dish!  This contest has become so popular, contestants are chosen by lottery, so be sure look for the Creative Arts Handbook in the Spring!

My own precious cousin, who is all of twelve years old, already has a ribbon under her belt!  Her mother credits her interest in cooking to our grandmother, who made the BEST Chocolate Sheeth Cake (in our family it’s sheeth, not sheet!).  Maggie wanted to honor our grandmother’s memory, and her first entry was the family sheeth cake.  This year, she wanted her entry to honor her Uncle Skipper, Skipper Vancil, who also happened to be a long-time Creative Arts volunteer.  How sweet is that??


Ribbon Winners Maggie and Grandparents

Maggie with her Grandparents..and Ribbons….obviously! PC: Jennifer Leavell


My own college-age daughter entered Creative Arts for years, and I vividly remember the summer she created this entry for the Shoe Box Parade contest.  Red and gold glitter in my house for DAYS!!!!


Ribbon Winners Shoe Box Parade Entry


And, while I have a personal bias for all-things Creative Arts, I must include another ribbon winner who is particularly near-and-dear to my heart…my own husband Will.  Will is an Urban Chicken Farmer, and has loved raising his own chickens, dating back to his growing up years in Tyler, Texas.  A few years ago, the Poultry Division of Livestock added an Egg Contest.  What is an Egg Contest, you might ask.  Well….eggs are judged on their exterior shell color and shape, and the yolk is judged on its color and clarity.  Two separate contests…but in the inaugural year of the State Fair of Texas Egg Contest….my own personal hubby SWEPT the show….winning blue ribbons in both categories, as well as the Sweepstakes Award.

Not even kidding.  I have never seen a grown man more excited about winning a ribbon in the History of Ever.  He made the local paper, and has ribbons and trophies proudly displayed on his shelf.  Autographs available by appointment, y’all.


Ribbon Winners Will Evans Egg Show Sweepstakes Winner


I hope you will take the time to visit the Creative Arts Building during the State Fair of Texas.  I detailed hours and discount opportunities in this post.  I might be there too….I’m already thinking about what to enter next year. I’ve got my sights set on being one of the Blue Ribbon Winners…I don’t have that color yet.


UPDATE:  In September 2020 I was awarded with my FIRST BLUE RIBBON!  I’m so so excited!  A Needlepoint Nativity!  Pictures coming soon!  


This post was written in collaboration with the State Fair of Texas.  All opinions, and ribbons, are my own.


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