DALLAS - About 2.2 million people passed through the gates for the State Fair of Texas this year.
Sunday was the last day of the fair and organizers said 2017 was a near record. The fair generated about $54 million in gross coupon sales, which is the second best in the fair's 131-year history.
The State Fair of Texas is a tradition for millions of North Texans every fall. And gauging where you stand next to Big Tex is a treasured tradition, even after you are all grown up.
"I brought her when she was 4 for the first time," said Terri Gay of her daughter, Talli.
"I'm 33 now, so we've been coming to the fair for almost 30 years," said Talli Gay.
Fairgoers say they love that they can count on their favorite things being at the fair year after year, like a Fletcher's corny dog.
But 2018 could bring change for Fair Park.
"We're in support of a non-profit taking over to manage Fair Park," said Karissa Condoianis, a spokeswoman for the State Fair of Texas.
Fair Park comes to life for the 24 days of the fair. But once Big Tex packs his bags and the 3 million or so visitors go home, Fair Park returns to a virtually empty venue for most of the year. Dallas leaders want to change that.
The city of Dallas received three bids from organizations interested in managing Fair Park. It's a job the city does now with the State Fair being its biggest tenant.
Condoianis said a non-profit could likely help raise private money to help repair the aging but historic art deco buildings.
"We believe they can put the sales and marketing team in place to really market Fair Park for what it is," she said.
The company receiving the city's management contract is expected to be announced at the beginning of next year. That will mean Big Tex will have a new landlord.
"This has been our home for 131 years. We want it to continue to be our home for another 131," Condoianis said.