Falling for Big Tex's Line

State Fair of Texas' big dude seems vaguely presidential these days.

Fair warning: So what is it about Big Tex? Is he the devil, or are we just dumb? How does that tall, black-haired State Fair icon tempt us back to Fair Park year after year, though we know pretty much exactly what we'll get?

It's not that we don't love the State Fair. We just can't figure out why. But there we are, perennially lured by Big Tex's booming, dopey "Howdy, folks! Welcome to the State Fair of Texas!"

And every year, it's the same: We shell out exorbitant fees to desperate, low-wage attendants to park in an impoverished neighborhood that never seems to get better. We hit the booth and get our tickets, then wander aimlessly around Fair Park's aging, seedy infrastructure, lured to the midway looking for a few minutes of exorbitantly priced ... what? Fun? Pleasure? Hope?

Location Info

Map

State Fair of Texas

3921 Martin Luther King Jr Bl
Dallas, TX 75210

Category: Music Venues

Region: Fair Park

What a sucker Buzz is, making those impossible gambles on rigged games on the off chance we might win some piece of cheap gimcrackery manufactured in China. (This is the year. ... This year we really will shoot out all of the star on the target and be a winner. We never learn.)

We wander by the auto show, checking out gas-guzzling American-made trucks we'd never buy and lusting over sleek imports we can't afford.

We line up at the fried-food booths, paying way too much for greasy, unhealthy, bizarre handfuls of oil that we'd never touch in our right minds. A deep-fried glob of butter? How, Big Tex, do you persuade us to pollute ourselves again and again?

Oh, and the carnival rides and the fun house, spinning our heads and distorting our images, leaving us dizzy and confused. Above it all, giant American flags whip and patriotic music blares over the PA system, adding to the cacophony and dulling the brain till one hardly knows what's real.

Big Tex towers at the center of it all — a mindless, empty-headed figure with a doofusy drawl, his chest puffed out, telling us that we're at the State Fair of Texas, so we must be having a good time.

When the day's over, we wander out, a bit hung over, greasy and vaguely nauseated, asking ourselves, "How could we swallow that? What were we thinking? Where did all our money go?"

Yep, it's the State Fair of Texas, and it's like nothing else on the planet.

Well, maybe there is one thing sort of like it, but we'll have to wait until November 2012 to be sure.

 
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47 comments
David Whitten
David Whitten

No, "we" don't. I did, but never returned. Fuck the state fair of Texas.

Don
Don

Thanks Patrick for saving me $500 dollars this year on a one night grease ball event. Last year we went and showed up on gang night. Imagine your article plus 1000's of gang members and wanna be gang members.

Leagues Williams
Leagues Williams

Patrick your a deep fried shit eater!! You are a bias weiner eater and you should be fired for such a shitty article!!

mommatwobe
mommatwobe

One of the worst researched and written articles I have EVER read

None-ya
None-ya

Looks like somebody shit in Patrick's fried butter.

A.  Kurten
A. Kurten

Dallas shall get rid of it, is a waste of time, and money. The real estate land shall be sold to a corporation to build a park and condominiums... Dallas needs the money anyway..

dallasjenn
dallasjenn

What about the arts & crafts pavillion? And the dog shows? And the ferris wheel? And the concerts? And the rush you feel when you end up there on the perfect fall day? And getting in for close to free when you bring an empty DP or can of food? Or finally having "Fair Day" come up on the calendar and getting to freely skip a day of school? There are ways to do the State Fair on a budget, and all those steps from the car to the front entrance gates will help you burn off (some of) the fried food calories you're about to enjoy. You can't ruin my Fair Fun!!!

Lucian B
Lucian B

I don't know what to say other than "Liberalism is a mental disorder." Yeah, our State Fair should be more like the Wisconsin State Fair.

K_kuykendall
K_kuykendall

wow. just tore up my childhood memories. not like i wnted to keep those :p

Johnram99
Johnram99

For someone who's boyfriend didn't show up and had to pay his own ticket, lost a $20 getting his cellphone out to call him like a 100 times and feeling guilty for paying $300 a month for a gym he never uses and still gaining weight, I think this is a fair article. Maybe when he have to pay $6000 replacing the chinese batteries of his "beautiful" electric car he will remember the trucks he can't afford.

E H
E H

Well isn't this writer a breath of fresh air?

CornDog
CornDog

We go to the Fair almost every year, we do almost the same routine every year, NO PROBLEM, Its's nostalgic, pure and simple, but ABOVE ALL ELSE, I have been to many STATE FAIRS and have never found one that stacks up to the TEXAS STATE FAIR as far as size, scope, it actually would take 2 days to get it all in. It is always very clean, very well managed, secure, and hospitable. We park and ride usually, it is fun to watch the fair goers as the excitement builds, the talk along the way, seeing a new generation of kiddos seeing it, enjoying it all for the first time, what's wrong with all that, my favorite time at the fair is the starlite parade, and the oh so fantastic marching bands that move all around the promenade. Hum, I smell BBQ and Funnel cakes must be time for the Fair. See Ya......

Thenewpollypureheart
Thenewpollypureheart

Yeah. So. Which would you rather do? Take a silly "kodak moment" picture in front of that "doofusy" statue, ride a few 'way-too-small-for-my-fat-ass' kiddie rides, get deliciously sick from eating too many funnel cakes, see an entire metroplex from the swinging basket of a ferris wheel a couple hundred feet in the air, watch them in amazement and nostalgia as your kids experience a must-experience...experience (at least ONCE in their soon to be jobless, pitiful, doomsday-esque lives that await them), take a day off from work to do so...

... or read this stupid article every single morning the state fair is on?

NosyMary
NosyMary

The Texas State Fair used to be a fun place to go years ago. All the exhibits, all the freebees, the free circus, etc., It is not fun anymore. I stopped going when they stopped counting attendace and started counting revenue instead.

Guest
Guest

I loved the article. Thanks for a good read on my Saturday morning.

yes, let's sell the kids for food, or trade them for state fair tickets.

didja have to spill the beans, Patrick? I was enjoying the show. I honestly think nobody took the time to dig deeper and figure out how the heck someone who's so negative can actually have access to mass media to distribute their negativity. oh wait...I know some Texans love their FOX news, where everything outrageous and extreme is taken as literal and true. oh well.

I love the state fair of texas for the same reasons listed in other comments. but I am tired of Texas politics and "good hair" and the good old boy politicians. i especially love half price Tuesday which allows me to actually afford the best rides all year, when I laugh so hysterically, it's similar to how I'll feel if what you're alluding to actually does happpen in Nov 2012; however, I'll feel a little more crazed and dazed and a little less hopeful if it does

maybe I'll finally sew a quilt and enter it in the state fair, it might come in handy ...maybe you know where I'm going with this...

LesliO
LesliO

Being snarky and mean spirited must be the "in" thing. Good job.

Blank77
Blank77

I like the little hands on the farm, my kids started doing it when they could barely walk and each year lets me see how much they've grown and brings back memories of their little days.

Ed
Ed

The State Fair is always fun to me. I've been for many years, and still enjoy the exhibits. Watching the guys hawk their goods is a show in itself. Lest you think it's all junk, 3 different big ticket items I've purchased from the State Fair are my 3 prized possessions in the kitchen. I rarely go a day without using at least 2 of the 3. Excellent quality. The guys peddling them did a good job. I bought. I love. I skip the bad food so I don't leave feeling greasy gutted. I don't play the bad no way I'll ever win that games, nor do I ride on the Midway. But those are only a small portion of what our Fair has to offer. I used a landscaper who does some of the SF landscaping at my own home and have a garden that survived this horrible summer because of her. She gave me Texas native plants that were low maintenance and they've survived quite well. Seeing what our livestock folks have to show is always interesting. Especially "Elsie" the Borden spokescow. The butter sculpture always amazes me in its saturated fatty artistic way.I could go on and on mentioning things the author above left out in his grouchy column. Take this 48 year old kid's word for it. Go. Support Texas and others. Have fun. Drink the fresh lemonade. Eat a corndog. Watch the demos. Sit in a massage chair. Walk around and get some fresh air. AND people watch! For goodness sakes, we've got plenty of oddities to look at, and that's free!Don't forget to get a little wigged out at how huge Big Tex is and how deep his voice is. Never mind how big his boots are and what that might mean....GO and have a great time.

Lee S
Lee S

Damn dude, cynical much? Would you prefer if we razed the whole location? You seem to somehow try to connect poverty in the region to the fact that the fair is there. Would you prefer it in Addison? or Frisco? Why dont you start a community center in southeast dallas, or lobby for higher wages, or tell city council to close it? The solution you seek has NOTHING to do with the fair. I do agree something needs to change in the region. And I have many great memories from that place, even though I didnt have many in my childhood. Maybe you should think about those good things when writing such an article. The fair represents alot of good things to alot of people. Just apparently not you.

TrackRat
TrackRat

November 2012... Formula One comes to Austin...

CG
CG

What am I missing in the last line. What happens in Nov 2012?

Bryan
Bryan

It is what it is....THE BEST STATE FAIR ON THIS PLANET....End of story...

Karl Crim
Karl Crim

Me and my wife love the State Fair. It's the greatest fair in the US. The only ones I have missed were during my service in the Marine Corps (10 yrs.). There is nothing that can match the smell of deep fried bacon or cotton candy. I am almost 50 years old and every time I go I feel like I am 10 again. Go Big Tex, we love ya buddy.

Samantha
Samantha

Must have woken up on the wrong side of Texas.... Too bad for you!

Pf
Pf

Why the hate? The State Fair of Texas is fun if you know how to have fun without mosh pits and Ecstasy. Seedy? I think they've done a good job cleaning it up and restoring some of the only Art Deco buildings left in North Texas. There is more to the State Fair than the Midway. It offers sports, live music, entertainment, museums, cultural exhibits, multi-cultural dance groups, Summer Musicals, animals, rodeos, dog shows and on and on and on. Not to mention the chance to indulge in crazy food ideas once a year. And the people watching is priceless! Patrick, you need to learn how to have fun beyond the shallowness that is, well apparently you.

mskat
mskat

First of all the State Fair charges way to much. They don't have the amities of Six Flags. Who care about Fried Bubble Gum that is not gum at all. Second the State fair has turned into a Small sales place. Well I really miss the Food and Fiber Building ok I know it's there but not like before Rick Perry took over the Agriculture Dept. Then that building became a flop. I know this for a fact because alot of us worked in the booths for about 17yrs. before he took over. This man has ruin the State of Tex. and he is going to ruin the Country if he become President.

TimCov
TimCov

1. Take DART rail to the State Fair. It drops you off and picks you up at the gate. And, it is usually the cheapest parking option.2. The reason we go is it doesn't hurt us to have an occasional day of care-free fun with bad food.3. You are coming across as a whiny hipster who can't appreciate anything in this article.

Ross Pat
Ross Pat

warning to all flash mobs who are thinking about attending,DONT. texans carry guns and will blow your f@cking head off.just a warning

Best mommy ever
Best mommy ever

I cant wait for the State Fair! Glad I WON'T be going with Patrick Williams though!!! What a drag. Hey Mrs. Williams (if there is one) maybe you can sneak off and go ALONE this year and actually have some fun!

Dave
Dave

Bring on the Turkey Legs. Bring on the Corney Dog, and the Cotton Candy, and the Fudge, and all of the other food that screams to be eaten at the state fair. Of course there are overpriced cars to look at and unlealthy food to eat, and spending dollar after dollar on the chance to win cheap crap. That is the point!See the sights. Watch the people. Go listen to the numerous musicians that perform. Watch the dog races, pet the animals, dig in the sand!Get taffy stuck in your teeth, check out some cool new kitchen gadgets, pick up brochures for home improvements you'll never get! But Go! See the laser show and get blasted by the heat from the flames. Watch the parade and marvel at how they walk on those tall stilts while eating a funnel cake.Who cares that it costs money and you had a day of fun and gluttony. That is the point.It only happens once a year. Go back to your life the day after and have the steamed fish and asparagus for a week to make up for it if you need to.See Ya'll there!

Maryn
Maryn

Did it once. Never again. Complete waste of time, money and energy. Food was dreadful, crowds rude and exhibits pretty sad.

Bill
Bill

Wow, you're quite the killjoy. Do you kick puppies, too? I'm guessing you think yourself too hip to go.

Here's what the State Fair IS: It is Texas. It is far more than midway rides, greasy food, and a car show. That's usually the viewpoint of someone who visited once against his wishes. I went to my first fair in 1982. Drove up from Houston with my then-girlfriend. Saw the Texas game. Rode the rides. Won a big panda for a girl I haven't seen since 1985. I saw Texans of EVERY stripe at the fair. You had bib overall-wearing farmers, you had preppies, you had dashing urbanites, and they were TEXANS.

I missed a few years due to a military commitment, but haven't missed a year since 1994. There is ALWAYS something different to see at the fair. The best thing about the fair is when you realize, "THIS IS TEXAS."

It sounds like you never visited any of the pavilions nor visited any of the 4H exhibits. You never stayed for the evening entertainment. You never saw the exotic bird show or watched the parade at twilight. You had some fried butter, a few beers, and left. Meh.

Too bad this article couldn't have been written by someone who actually UNDERSTOOD what the fair was about, or ACTUALLY ENJOYED ATTENDING.

Rather than sit on your lofty hipster perch, try attending this year... with an open mind.

http://www.bigtex.com

Matthew
Matthew

$500?!?! Did you ride every 1-minutes ride on the midway or did you get tricked into buying a mattress or hot tub?

Don
Don

Please point out the miss-truths in this article! Opps, there aren't any! hehehe

Don
Don

I can't find anything but truth in it myself

Calliebgood
Calliebgood

Love it! hahaha! I'll take one funnel cake and one cheesy picture to go pleeeeeease :)

Ed
Ed

Oh, I forgot to mention the trained cat show. BRILLIANT. Anyone who can get a cat to do anything is a freaking genius!

dalgyromod
dalgyromod

We have a presidential election.

Bill
Bill

Actually Sweetheart, you know this for an OPINION. Yours. By the way, your post would hold more weight if you could spell and punctuate.

LesliO
LesliO

Eloquently said. Thank you for sharing.

Amtrakusa
Amtrakusa

Sorry, Can't afford to drop $500 on 1 night this year. You have fun now ya hear!

Patrick Williams
Patrick Williams

OK, Bill and everyone else: I'll cop to being a doofus, a killjoy and no fun, but a hipster? Yeah -- fat, bald, blue-grass-loving, nearly 50 -- hipster isn't really me. I've never moshed. I don't even know how to mosh.

Yes, there is a Mrs. Williams, same one for more than 25 years, in fact. She's either a saint or clinically insane. Eh. Same difference. (Yes, she's a real, live flesh-and-blood, not inflatable.)

I have attended the fair with her every year but one for the past 14 years. I generally enjoy it, though I'm never really sure why, the same way every year I eat a turkey leg there and spend the day with smoky grease face and indigestion, though I tell myself every year I won't.

Sooo...try this: When you read the column, mentally substitute "Rick Perry" for the words "Big Tex" and "Texas" for "State Fair." What you'll end up with is either a sort of subtle ironic commentary on Perry and politics or an epic failure of a joke.

OK. Right. Gotcha. Epic failure. Fine. But if you're going to hate on me, let it be for being a liberal, middle-aged, killjoy doofus, NOT for being a fair-hating hipster. I can take "libtard" but not "hipster." Being a hipster is so unhip.

Dave
Dave

Good Lord! Who spends $500 bucks? I take a family for 4 and we get by for maybe $120-150 tops. Nobody goes hungry or has a lack of fun.

 
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