I’ve lived in Texas long enough that I’ve been to the State Fair of Texas more than once. I’ve gone with my parents and a night with friends and co-workers. I’ve gone before a Dallas Summer Musicals show. I even went on what I thought was a date, only to later find out it wasn’t. The kiss? “I was drunk!”
But none of these experiences rival attending the Fair with a native Texan, someone who knows all the ins and outs. If you ever get the opportunity — seize it!
For me, it was unexpected. Out of nowhere, Boyfriend suddenly got all excited about the Fair. This is someone who’s been claiming he is “done” with Dallas. “Been there and ready to move on.” So I was quite surprised when, with great precision, he started to review the weather report to plan which day we’d visit.
Confused, I inquired. “I grew up going to the Fair,” he said, whatever that means. He’s been working like a madman, so I was thrilled that he was looking forward to anything fun. Appropriately enough, this year’s theme is “Celebrating Texans,” so I started to consider the day a celebration of all things Boyfriend and let him set the agenda.
His excitement was not only adorable, it was highly contagious.
“We’re going to see the pig races and the animal show, and then we’ll go see the butter sculpture,” he said with an abnormal-for-him amount of animation. For as many times as I’ve been to the Fair, I’ve never actually seen a show. Truth be told, aside from the live music, I’m not even sure I knew shows existed.
Boyfriend was giddy like a little kid expecting tons of presents on his birthday. And before you get the wrong idea — no. He didn’t propose. Although I do know someone who got engaged at the Fair.
Letting a native, who knows all of the ins and outs direct you through the gates of Fair Park, is by far the best way to greet Big Tex. They know stuff. Like which gate to enter and how to avoid traffic. He started to talk about where we’d eat a turkey leg and which pavilions to visit.
He not only knew about all of the different shows, he even knew how to navigate us to where they took place and the names of the different stages. It was a mix of impressive and scary.
My favorite show was the “Wild West Pet Palooza,” with different animals performing tricks on a Wild West-themed stage. The best part were the dogs and cats in the show, which were rescue animals. It melted my heart and made me want to take home a bunch of adopted dogs. I didn’t.
The next best thing was scouring the area for $3 beer. You really could make an entire day of it, not only going around looking for those hot spots, but also talking to the people in line. Like us, they were intentionally seeking out the cheapest beer. It was a hoot!
The butter sculpture is a must, and it even made me lose interest in cookies for a bit, which is a very good thing. I’m always amazed and delighted by the designs from Farmer Mike the Pumpkin Carver, but I couldn’t decide if the glue on eyes made the work better or worse.
The one disappointment was missing out on the “World of Magic” show. We even arrived early — which is a term that is not in my vocabulary — and were out of luck. The seating area already was filled and it was the last show of the day. Boyfriend was highly disappointed and I wanted to buy him a treat to make him feel better.
Oh, and the Swan Paddle Boats were hiding the day we visited. But that was offset by a visit to the “Made in Texas” area, which I’ve heard about in the past but never experienced. We wanted to buy Bloody Mary mix but decided it was too large to lug around. Instead I got lip balm, snacks and spices.
I also bowed down to a Fletcher’s Corny Dogs. Come on! If Oprah has eaten one, you know it’s something not to be missed.
We ended our visit with two pieces of Sutton’s Salt Water Taffy, which perfectly consumed our last two remaining tickets. Just like all things State Fair, we left wanting more. Until Boyfriend suggested we go back again this weekend.
Originally appeared in The Katy Trail Weekly, Take a native Texan to the State Fair.