It's picture perfect fair-weather in Dallas this week, but while second helpings of all things State Fair are tempting, you might start to notice it in the waistline. If you want do the fair but need to give the gut a break, here are just a few of the best inedible ways to spend your time at the 2012 state fair.
1. Pig Races, Dog Shows, and Boris the Giant Boar Depending on how much bacon you've eaten, you may or may not want to check out Boris, the enormous hog who lives in front of the swine building during fair season. He's smelly, and he has gnarly, jagged teeth and larger-than-life genitalia.
If smaller, cuter swine are more your thing, the pig races in the Pan-Am arena are a must. Little cheerleaders are recruited from the audience and if you're not careful, you might find yourself screaming enthusiastically for the slow potbelly pig that is always thrown into the race ironically. The Pan-Am building also hosts daily dog shows and there are loads of adorable puppies and kittens right next door to ogle before you head into the barnyard for more exotic animal fair.
2. The Girl Scouts 100th at the Texas Hall of State This year's fair coincides with the Girl Scout's 100th anniversary, and the Texas Hall of State has been transformed into an interactive Girl Scout museum. Inside, an enormous screen projects images of Girl Scouts young and old whose floating heads are only mildly reminiscent of the Wizard of Oz in the way they emerge from the ornately decorated gold of the hall's back wall. You can get your picture next to cardboard cutouts of scouts around a campfire or check out scout uniforms and memorabilia from the past century. If you download the Girls Scout State Fair app on your phone, there's even a scavenger hunt for you to explore while you check out the exhibit. But mostly importantly, you can pick up free cookies everyday at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. On opening day, shortbread was the only option, but hopefully you'll get lucky and find some Thin Mints or Samoas. Oh, wait. Now we're eating again.
3. The Creative Arts Building This building has it all -- butter sculptures, quilts, cooking contests, photography. If it's crafty, you'll find it here. One of the strangest exhibits is the Glue-the-Shoe Contest, in which participants enter different types of shoes with pun-inspired decorations (i.e. "Political Platforms"). You can also peruse shelf after shelf of pickled veggies and jams, beautiful hand-made quilts, and strangely creepy dolls. Some of the items make sense, others, well, let's just say there are a lot of different interpretations of the words "craft" and "art."
Speaking of art, the butter sculpture is not to be missed. This year the sculpture is a somewhat oddly disproportioned Girl Scout-themed rendering of several scouts dropping cookies into a giant hand. It doesn't make a ton of sense, but it's butter, so it really doesn't need to.
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4. Southwest Airlines State Fair Classic We all know about the TX-OU game, but this Saturday, October 6th is another game equally worthy of your attention. The Southwest Airlines State Fair Classic kicks off at 6 p.m. but the rivalry between Grambling State and Prairie View A&M is more about halftime than touchdowns. The rivalry here is of the musical variety and the half-time show, often referred to as a battle of the bands, is not to be missed.
5. The Midway What? You don't want to walk around the fair carrying a giant stuffed panda? Then don't get drawn in by shouting carnies tempting you to show off your skills. This is also the only place where it is acceptable for adults to ride down giant slides or be spun around in a human salad-spinner. And no matter how long the wait, the Ferris Wheel is always worth it. Go at night for the best views of the city and the fair below.