8 Unpredictable Things to See and Do at the State Fair of Texas

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You’ll go. You’ll eat corn dogs and fried unicorn tears and ride the big Ferris wheel despite your fear of heights. Later on, you might hurl yourself down a three-story slide for grownups and think about how nice it is to be a kid trapped in an adult’s body. That’s what everybody does. But you’re not everybody. You’re a State Fair trailblazer. Here are eight ways to blaze trails at the fair this year.

Butter Sculpture
Ongoing through Oct. 23
Creative Arts Building

The State Fair of Texas commissioned Dallas artist Ken Robison to sculpt a replica of 2015’s champion steer RFD (short for Real Frickin’ Deal), a 4H tour de force from Yoakum, Texas. It’s unclear whether the idea to use butter came from Robison, the State Fair or RFD himself, but who cares? It’s a sculpture that’s made out of butter. For several months, Robison spent two hours at a time in a 30-degree freezer carving 1,000 pounds of Country Crock into a life-sized, zero carb bovine. The hardest part, he says, was when the butter wouldn’t stay firm. Damn you, soft butter. After he finished RFD, the dairy maestro decided to slap out a few penguins for the exhibit, just to pleasantly confuse you. Go see the butter sculpture. But try not to lick it.

Light Crust Doughboys (pictured at top)
Oct. 16 – Oct. 23
2:30, 3:30, 4:30, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. daily
Dr Pepper Stage

Speaking of butter enthusiasts, have you heard of the Light Crust Doughboys? This Western swing band from Saginaw is playing 40 shows over eight days on the Dr Pepper Stage. While their name might sound mercilessly hipster, the ensemble has been around in one incarnation or another since 1931. (Reference point: Jerry Haynes, aka Mr. Peppermint, was four years old in 1931.)

Breeding Rabbit Show
Oct. 8 – Oct. 16
9 a.m. daily
Poultry Building

There’s a 100 percent chance that those of you with even a minimally active imagination are asking yourselves the following questions: How does the solitary, non-pluralized rabbit procreate in the first place? Do I get to watch them breed? And of course there’s the elephant in the room: Are we supposed to enjoy it? Despite at least three Google searches, I’m still asking myself these questions and also, cancelling my Saturday morning plans.

Milking Parlor Demo
Ongoing through Oct. 23
Next to the Kids’ Boardwalk

Milk is important. Milking? Even more so. Cows from Dallas-area farms (we still have them?) are a-coming to the State Fair, where modern milking techniques will be demonstrated full force. Kids will learn. Cows will milk. Everyone wins.

The Dentzel Carousel
Ongoing through Oct. 23

You are a doe-eyed child. Big Tex is still years away from his demise. Upon spotting the majestic 1914 Dentzel merry-go-round, you make a beeline for the prettiest pony, which you picked out all by yourself because you’re such a big girl/boy. Mom and/or dad are standing next to you making sure you don’t fall off the horse and fracture something. Ugh, you’re always injuring yourself! Life is perfect. You and your pony go up and down, up and down (unless you’re the sad sack who sits on that goofy bench thing), as one ethereal music box song after another plays in the background. Each revolution reminds you that childhood is as fleeting as it is magical. The only difference? Now you’re a grown-ass adult.

Burt the Chainsaw Carver
Oct. 16
11 to 11:30 a.m.
Nitto Truck Zone Stage

Louisiana artist Burt Fleming has an unusual “paintbrush” of choice. He takes a blank section of timber and turns it into a work of art using a power chainsaw. Owls, eagles, bears, alligators — Burt can find all these and more inside logs and pieces of wood. He’s also got a quick wit. See for yourself at the Nitto Truck Stage.

Taylor Swift’s Baby Clothes

Ongoing through Oct. 23
Hall of State Building

As an entity, Taylor Swift isn’t exactly off the beaten path, but the pink leotard she wore when she was three? Totally underground. Swift, who’s from Pennsylvania and has no discernible ties to Texas, has an entire exhibit dedicated to her this year at the iconic Hall of State building. The collection includes tour photos, instruments, costumes and other memorabilia Swiftophiles tend to fancy. Possibly included: hair dolls, lyrics written in blood and a wad of gum she chewed in 2007. We can dream.

Oct. 15
8:30 p.m.
Chevrolet Main Stage

What a lovely, offbeat yet life-affirming move the State Fair overlords have made by featuring Nelly this year. Where has he been since 2003!? What will he open with! I hope it’s "Hot in Herre"! No, "Ride Wit Me"!

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