Thursday, October 14, 2010

Our Texas State Fair Is A Great State Fair

Big Tex greets fiar visitors
Fall arrives, there’s a change in the air (achoo!), and Texans know it’s State Fair time! Once upon a time, each state in the continental U.S. had a state fair. Not so today. Although I’ve lived in Texas most of my life, I only visited the State Fair of Texas after my Hero and I married. If any of you have seen the movie “State Fair” on late night TV—or in the theater depending on your age—you know that Pat Boone was the star of that 1962 movie made at the Texas State Fair. In the movie, the fair was an exciting, magical place--but in a naive way.

Pat Boone in 1962 movie
The State Fair of Texas is still magical and exciting, but not so much as depicted in the movie. For one thing, canned goods entered in the creative arts division for judging must be submitted in August, not after the fair opens at the end of September through the middle of October. There are on the spot cooking contests, however, and a friend once entered and won for her peach cobbler. I always preferred the canned goods and won blue and lesser ribbons several years for my peach jam, grape jelly, and green beans. Hero grew the fruits and vegetables, and I processed them into canned or frozen caches. Hero, while waiting for Darlings 1 and 2 and me to look at the ladies’ exhibits, found a seat at a cooking demonstration and learned to make biscuits and cinnamon rolls. He said, "I didn't realize cooking is just a math formula," Can you tell he's an engineer? Now that was a good year, because he still makes biscuits better than anyone I know (except my grandmother). One year, Darling 1 garnered a blue ribbon for her photography. All in all, the fair has been good to our family.

Blue Ribbons similar to ours
 Big Tex—and I do mean BIG—welcomes visitors frequently with announcements of upcoming events. In addition to the Midway featuring a huge ferris wheel that is up all year, there are exhibit buildings filled with everything from new cars to farm animals. Walking among the crowds quickens the pulse. What to do first? We head for the funnel cake place, then the caramel apples, then the Belgian waffles. Yes, we eat our way through the fairgrounds until it’s time to eat a late lunch at the scenic Old Mill Restaurant—which has served everything from country cooking to Mexican food, depending on the year. Then there are all the exhibit buildings to see: new gadgets, import booths, you name it.

Cotton Bowl football every weekend
 For football fans, there’s the annual University of Texas vs. Oklahoma University. Their rivalry is legendary, but other games are held in the Cotton Bowl during the fair. Don’t be shocked, but no one in our family is a football fan so I can't tell you who else played this year. Rare not to like football in Texas, but I'm afraid we are eccentric. At various stages, live music shows including at least one headliner per night are available—this year from The Pointer Sisters to an Elvis impersonator and everything between. Mostly country groups. After all, this is Texas. And that doesn't include the show at the State Fair Music Hall. Those Music Hall shows are a bargain because your peviously purchased ticket not only includes parking and entry to the fair, but it gets you into a terrific paved parking lot inside the fence near the Music Hall. The grounds are permanent home to numerous museums: Women’s Museum, African American Museum, Hall of State, Science Museum, Natural History Museum, Aquarium and a Railroad Museum. There’s also a Garden Show. In short, there’s something for everyone and every age.

over Fair
Personally, I have always wanted to ride the ferris wheel during the fireworks over the nearby lagoon. By then, we are usually pooped and dragging our feet while Hero laments the amount of money we've spent. We sit on the grass or, if we're lucky, a bench and watch the show before straggling to our car and then to battle the traffic and head home. I love hearing the hordes of children watching (why are they up this late?) ooh and ahh as the fireworks explode in beautiful colors overhead. Maybe this year will be the year I see the display from high atop the ferris wheel!

1 comment:

Joyce Henderson said...

We used to love to go to county fairs in Southern California when our kids were young and at home.

Btw, I just love that tree on you blog page. Reminds me of oaks in Southern California, even some here in Florida.