On the Road: State Fair of Texas
Since 1886, the State Fair of Texas has been held every fall at Dallas’ 277 acre landmark Fair Park, where stately art deco buildings co-exist with the flashy midway. Students are allowed a day off school to attend what is the en masse social event of the season. Couples two-step, kids are pulled in wagons, city slickers ogle the live turkeys while farmers watch over protectively and with some amusement. Everyone comes to the State Fair, and everyone has a good time. Frankly, It’s hard not to.
There are the rides, of course (the same ones that have been there for years – little changes at the State Fair), the livestock and sheepdog herding demonstrations, the bands with that infectious country twang, and pavillions filled with the newest models of automobiles, arts and crafts, and packaged food products from all over the state (wickedly hot hot sauce, clover honey and more). With all that walking and dancing, you will want to eat while you are there, and you will eat well.
I think the food at the State Fair is so legendary simply because of the principle of sheer overstimulation. You have had so much fun watching the parade, posing with the Marilyn Monroe impersonator, shooting bb guns, and petting the baby goats that when finally take a bite of fair food, your senses are primed and at the ready to enjoy.
There are lots of fried delights like the singular Texas corny dog, deep-fried peanut butter, jelly, and banana sandwiches, and for the first time this year, fried coke. The fried coke took home the creativity award, and the buzz surrounding it was so deafening it could be heard from New York. I could only manage about two bites of this sticky sweet invention before passing it off to my dad, who can always be trusted to finish off whatever is left on your plate. No matter the yearly fad, it’s the classics that continue to steal my heart: frito pie, gorditas and tacos from local Mexican restaurants, corn on the cob, and fried okra.
I have one of those nascent childhood memories of an early Sunday morning at the fair with my dad, perhaps its biggest fan, and my sister. This was when parts of the midway weren’t even paved, and my legs were dusted with red clay from my white ankle socks up to my knees. We went from ride to ride without having to wait in line: from the mechanical swings, to the bobsled, to the haunted house. Before we left we sat next to the reflecting pools towered by those imposing limestone-colored buildings, and the three of us shared my first and only Belgian waffle. It was, like most everything at the State Fair, incredible.