It’s that time of year again: Big Tex is waving welcome to Texas State Fair visitors and the smell of corny dogs and funnel cakes fills the air. Of course, one of the biggest headaches about going to the fair is navigating traffic to get there, and finding a — safe and legal — parking space. Well, here are some hints and advice from the city of Dallas on the parking side of that equation.

The first things to remember is that just because somebody is standing there with a flag, waving you into a “parking area” for a relatively small fee, that doesn’t mean you should park there. For one thing, not all those folks have permits, and some are even charging fairgoers to park on “their” property, even though it isn’t actually their property.

bigtex2014City officials said that on opening day last Friday, Fair Parking Service representatives visited every location in the area with a permit to host parking “to make them aware of what they are authorized to do, educate the onsite supervisors of the dos and don’ts” and to tell them about the “three-strike enforcement process. Anyone operating illegally will receive citations immediately.”

City Parking Services representatives will be issuing criminal citations to people operating parking lots without a permit “inside and outside the crown area, two streets out” from the fairgrounds. “The goal is,” city officials said, “to discourage individuals who flag people onto vacant lots or the parking lots of closed establishments without permission to use the property. This situation has resulted in some unknowing fairgoers having their cars towed by the property owner.”

If you go to the fair and decide to parking somewhere outside the fairgrounds, make sure that you park at a lot displaying “the mandatory placard” in the correct colors, which this year means an orange sign with blue writing. I am going to suggest that if the sign is obviously handwritten, it probably isn’t genuine.

“Any location not displaying this placard or not displaying a placard at all is not an authorized location. Parking at any of thee locations could result in a vehicle possibly being towed,” city officials warned.

Here are the general guidelines permitted parking locations are required to follow:

• They can’t charge more than 150 percent of what fairground lots charge.

• They have to have the fee they charge for parking posted in a conspicuous place, written in letters at least 5 inches high.

• They can’t charge you more than their sign says they charge.

• They have to have a Fair Park Parking permit to charge a fee to park cars “inside the crown area” (the two street perimeter).

• The supervising attendant must be present any time cars are parked on the lot. That means when people are getting there to park, and all the way through to the time the last car parked there leaves.

• The supervising attendant must  be “wearing and displaying” their city-issued permit ID.

So there you have — the rules to park at the State Fair. Go. Park safely. And enjoy your corny dog.