On Saturday, I made the three-hour drive to Dallas to go to the State Fair of Texas, something I’ve been wanting to do since I moved to Texas four years ago.
I grew up going to the Bartholomew County Fair every summer in Columbus, Indiana and fair culture became a part of my life. I showed horses, raced barrels, and in the weeks leading up to fair week, we spent time picking out coordinating outfits and gathering horse tackle.
As I got older, the fair was less about horses and more about the Midway — the rides, the games, and seeing friends in the height of summer. The fair was about food and fun; something that shook up our small town for one week every year.
I went to the fair when I lived it Louisiana and it was a sad, sad excuse for a fair. But Texas, the state where everything is bigger, better, and ranch life is real for large sections of the state. If anyone is going to do a fair right, it’s gotta be Texas.
So, I rented a car and made the drive. I didn’t consider just how packed it would be — of course I went on the second-to-last day the fair was open. But, I got it figured out, parked and made it to the entrance.
Once I got inside, I was quickly reminded about all of the little coupons you have to buy for food, rides and games, so I got as many sheets as possible as was on my way. I was starving, so I kicked things off with an award-winning fried chicken and waffle on a stick. It was like all wrapped together, so you got the chicken and waffle in a single bite and it had powdered sugar, syrup and sriracha. It was reallllllll good.
While I ate, I looked for the next thing to get. The lines were so long, you had to keep it moving. They had souvenir cups that had cheap refills so I got one and chugged Powerade all day.
I wandered past a tractor pull and a unicycle show, and made my way to the animals. In the cattle building, the cows were just THERE… like no pins, no nothing and I’m 100% certain I’ve never been that close to a cow. I wish I would have gotten a good picture, but the people in the building seemed really serious and I didn’t want to be that person. I also saw a real life longhorn!
Next, I went through the midway and wow, this place was huge. There were so many rides and games and more places to eat. All of the rides were so big and almost all of them went upside down. I know that sounds silly to be shocked by that, but as a kid, there was only one or two rides at the little county fair that went upside down. This were huge rides!
The midway was a lot for the senses, so I didn’t stay there long. Just outside the midway, there were all kinds of places to shop and retailers showing new products — there were mattress displays and lots of new cars, and video game setups.
After that, I got a basket of fried pickles. This was a difficult decision because there were also fried olives and the tater twister… both of which sounded good. Walking around and seeing all of the food options was fun — food culture has hit the fair, for sure. There were your usual funnel cakes, turkey legs, corn dogs and lemon shakeups, but there was also fried ice cream, fried cupcakes, chicken fried lobster and a fried fettucine ball, and, as someone behind me yelled, FRIED LEMONADE?!? Ha!
I kept seeing people walking around with random toys and balloons, some of which was won from games, but you could buy things from stands, so I quickly purchased an oversized orange lama to carry with me the rest of the day. When at the fair…
Next, I got in line for fried cheesecake. While I was waiting in line, a police officer had us shift the line to make way for a parade. PARADE? By the time I got my food and found a seat, the parade came and I was surprised at how happy this made me.
There were pomped (if you know, you know) floats with all of the Texas beauty queens on them, a marching band and dancers, and random entertainers… it reminded me of being in Lousiana and it was just pure joy.
Shortly after the parade, I walked to the main stage because 98 Degrees was putting on a concert — yep, that same 98 Degrees.
I wasn’t as big a fan of them as I was for NSYNC or Backstreet Boys, but I listed to their Spotify station on my drive up and remembered just how many good bops they had. But, from the time the show started, I found myself mostly cringing and laughing AT them.
They still sounded amazing, but instead of singing their own catalog of songs, they sang a lot of songs that weren’t theirs and all but one or two of those songs were from black artists and… I just have a real issue with white America stealing so much of black culture without so much as a mention… I don’t want to get political here, but I cannot get behind 98 Degrees singing the Jackson 5. Just, no.
When they sang their own stuff, it was good and it was a fun walk down memory lane — it was a free concert, so I can’t complain too much.
I left the fair around 10 or so, hobbling to my car — my poor feet!
I’ll admit, I felt a little sorry for myself for being alone. I feel like I’ve done so much of this year alone, and part of that is my own doing. But, it was just such pure, innocent fun, and it was a reminder that no matter what it is you want to do — whether it’s going to the fair or making a career change, etc. — no one is going to do it for you.
When I dropped off my rental car Sunday morning and got a ride back, one of the passengers said he lived in Dallas for 14 years and never went to the fair because the area where it’s at is “rough”.
What? He missed out on a fun time year after year because the area was rough? The fair is a place for all walks of life, no matter the area. That’s so ridiculous. I’m so thankful that I haven’t let fear or silly things like the appearance of an area keep me from doing things I want to do.
Get out there and live a little! I’m so glad I went to the fair and I’ll definitely be back next year!