There’s nothing more ‘Americana’ than a state fair, and there’s nothing more ‘merican’ than the month-long State Fair of Texas. Every year thousands flock to Dallas to gorge themselves on fried food, shopping and games. But before we get to that, let’s start off with the one and only, Big Tex.
Making his debut at the 1952 State Fair, Big Tex is a focal point for fairgoers. He wears a size 70 boot, a 75 gallon hat and stands 60 feet tall. This giant cowboy waves and even talks, welcoming people to the fair. Last year he was destroyed by a fire, but was rebuilt along with the The Life and Times of Big Tex a museum-like exhibition.
After a visit to the big cowboy, it’s time to get shopping! That is, if you’re in the market for a truck or a mattress. Several halls are dedicated to shopping, however each hall seemed to have the same merchandise for sale. Over and over we passed mattress vendors and truck sales floors. In between were as seen on TV vendors and people who were selling a variety of trinkets, none of which caught our attention. The world’s largest butter sculpture though? Now that was something worth stopping for.
The Iowa State Fair is the one responsible for the popularization of the art of butter sculpting, and since everything is bigger in Texas you can bet your bottom dollar that the Texas State Fair butter sculpture is the biggest in the world! Is it the best butter sculpture? No. But the Texans gathered around the buttered sculpture of Big Tex (who else?) were tickled pink knowing that their fair had the biggest one. Texans carry with them a sense of pride that I have never seen anywhere else before, ever. Whether it’s about a butter sculpture or a national monument, if it’s Texan in the slightest then they are proud. Several hundred feet before you cross into the Texas state line, you can see the giant state flag being flown ready to welcome you in. In fact, since Texas was the only state to be a Republic prior to to joining the US, we are the only state that can fly our flag at the same height as the United States Flag, and do the good people of Texas take advantage of that! Our Lone Star flag is flown at every street corner, stamped onto every highway and worn on many a belt buckle. And at the state fair many of the fried foods are served adorned with a miniature Texas flag. Speaking of food, the vendors are the next place you’ll want to visit after buying a mattress and a giant truck, so get the ambulance on speed dial because we’re about to have ourselves a heart attack Lone Star Style.
Not being a big fan of fried foods, I was in a bit of a (fried) pickle when it came to finding something to eat. Everything is fried at the Texas State Fair. Everything.
In order to make our state fair experience complete we had to eat something fried, so we went with the most appealing thing we could find, Chocolate covered strawberries fried in waffle batter and covered with powdered sugar. Yum! Really. They were delicious!
Of course there was a midway where you could get whipped around on some rickety rides, but after cramming a days worth of fried junk into your stomach I’m not sure who would want to risk losing all of it over a 30 second spin around the Tilt-A-Whirl.
By far the best part of the fair was the Birds of the World Show, which is ironic seeing as I’m a bit terrified of the flying devils. Anyways, Steve Martin (the zoologist not the actor) has the best animal show I’ve ever seen, and it’s all because of one thing. His birds are flyers. No wings are clipped, and no birds are chained. From the moment the show starts birds of the world are flying to and fro over the audiences head, which is lovely especially for someone who doesn’t trust a pigeon let alone a white-backed vulture. You won’t see any birds riding bicycles or dancing to music. This show is mainly about education and conservation. Birds fly on command from the stage to the back of the open air auditorium, and the most impressive of all involves the Ferris wheel. Located several hundred feet behind and above the auditorium is the giant ferries wheel, and throughout the show different birds were released from the top of the wheel and went soaring down over the heads of the audience, landing on stage. All of the training of these birds is done by positive reinforcement, and over the 20+ years of doing this Steve has never once lost a bird. Impressive to say the least.
Overall visiting the fair was a great way to spend the day, however, I don’t feel the need to go again. The Wisconsin state fair on the other hand, I would visit every year if I could. Shoot, I’d walk there from Texas for one of their cream puffs!