The fair is old. About 131 years old. My grandmother is almost as old. She turned 100-and-a-half last month.
The fair is also steeped with tradition. Every year, people pile in and trade their hard-earned money for fair coupons, then trade in the fair coupons for fried food that makes their bowel movements painful. Then they take their poor, fat selves to Texas' Statue of Liberty — Big Tex — and pose for pictures.
My grandmother is always one of those people.
This year’s State Fair of Texas could have very well been Mary Skinner’s 100th year to attend the State Fair. No one is sure. But she grew up in Fair Park. She says she lived where the midway is now.
My grandma is old enough to remember when the state fair had Negro Achievement Day. And she can remember seeing Doak Walker play football at the Cotton Bowl.
Yeah, the fair may try to fancy itself up every year with new fried foods and shiny attractions, but most people know they're just trying to, like, put lipstick on a cow, or some other saying old people say. But the fair is the fair.
Sometimes you just need to take it in like a 100-year-old woman would. Here's how.
Indulge in a Fletcher’s corny dog and a Coke.
It's a state fair staple and reason enough to buy a ticket. And even though it’s 10 a.m. and a cold, windy day for early October in Texas, there’s really no wrong time to eat a Fletcher’s corny dog. Yeah, we'll call this breakfast.
Ask what's for dessert.
Because one food item at the state fair is just a pregame to a bigger, less healthy food item, immediately ask what's for dessert. Yeah, you could go take a look at the year's hottest and slickest cars in a boring car show, or you could find a bench in the food court and eat a funnel cake.
Ask what's for dessert to the funnel cake.
Chocolate popcorn sounds good, and you remember that sometime in your 100 years, you ate it at the fair, so wheel yourself around the fairgrounds looking for some chocolate popcorn.
Find the butter sculpture.
It's in the arts and crafts building, where a sculpture made completely out of butter belongs. Be sure to sit there and ponder its meaning. Texas' Mount Rushmore? But is that Martin Luther King Jr.?
See the pig races.
While you are waiting for the next show in 20 minutes, occupy yourself and your mouth with food.
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Is that Texas-shaped nachos?
Yes, it is. And at only 12 coupons, it's a steal.
Really see the pig races.
Pigs racing for entertainment? While men in denim overalls tell the crowd to cheer? And they trade out pigs for fatter pigs with each round? Yes.
Take a tour of the Go Texan Pavilion and bitch about the fair replacing Blue Bell ice cream with yogurt.
Yogurt? Yogurt? If we wanted to diet, we would go to a juice bar. But it's the Go Texas Pavilion in the State Fair of Texas, and we want Blue Bell ice cream, damn it.
What's for dessert?
As you're heading out of the fair a few hours later, make sure to count how many coupons you have left. The coupons are only good at the fair, so you might as well blow them before you leave. When you spy fried brownies for 13 coupons, you go ahead and indulge in three fried balls of brownie batter.