Fair Game

We're gonna do it this year. We will go to the State Fair of Texas. We will look at cars we can't afford, pet animals we only see in captivity, stare at the freaks and watch somebody deep-fry a Twinkie. We won't run screaming through the front gate, cross Parry Avenue and dash inside the Meridian Room for a shot of liquid courage. Not this time, we won't. Blame it on our slightly sadistic older brother, but our experiences with the State Fair of Texas have given us ample opportunity to catalog all of our greatest fears: claustrophobia (confined spaces), agoraphobia (crowds) and acrophobia (heights). But thanks to the great diversity of attractions available at the annual fair, there's more than just the everyday phobias to conquer. There's also sitophobia (food, including Fletcher's corn dogs and funnel cakes), siderodromophobia (trains at the Age of Steam Railroad Museum), pupaphobia (puppets in a kids entertainment section) and alektorophobia (chickens in the barnyard attraction). We haven't found it yet, but we bet there's a name for "fear of giant turkey legs sold at fairs."

But there's probably no better excuse to stare a few psychological disorders in the eye than the State Fair of Texas. The theme this year is "Taste & See," which makes sense, because all of those fabulous fair foods prime the arteries for the one-two punch of Thanksgiving and Christmas later this year. But we don't really see how it translates across the board. There's the Starlight Parade nightly at 7:15, the TXU Energy Extravaganza nightly at 8, the midway and carnival, dog shows, livestock exhibitions, arts-and-crafts pavilions, Birds of the World show, Spirit of the Dance, Holidays at the White House in miniature, a home-and-garden show, and much, much more. Just don't eat the daisies...or munch on a tiny chair from The Oval Office.

But the State Fair is more than just wandering around Fair Park. It kicks off on Friday with the Downtown Roundup along Main Street downtown with a parade, chili cook-off, live music and the chance to "dress western." It all starts at 11 a.m. There's also the Big Tex Mile race September 27, the International Challenge Cup soccer match October 1, the Grambling vs. Prairie View football game October 4 and the TX-OU game October 11.

The fair is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily September 26 to October 19 in Fair Park. Admission is $8 to $12 at the gate, or $10.50 from Kroger. Call 214-565-9931 or visit www.bigtex.com. --Shannon Sutlief

Dragon Tale
Cheng Pei-Pei is a real fox

Much like Bruce Lee's 1-inch punch, we have a lot to accomplish and little space in which to operate. On Friday and Saturday evening, the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University is hosting a festival of four films by Hong Kong's trailblazing and beloved Shaw Brothers studio. Gone are the days of limited availability and lackluster presentation; these choices spanning 1966 to 1980 are reborn from 35mm prints and retain their original Mandarin language with subtitles. Cheng Pei-Pei, Jade Fox from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, is the guest of honor. The Hughes-Trigg Auditorium is at 3140 Dyer St. Call 214-768-2787. --Matt Hursh

Keep on Trucking

It has arrived. Your prayers have been answered. On-site tractor-trailer parking will be available at this year's Great American Trucking Show. Please, please, try to contain your excitement. Oh, and the show also includes three days of your normal big-rig wackiness, but that's just par for the course with this exposition. Business pros and casual trucking observers alike are welcome at the gathering, which operates from September 26 through September 28 at the Dallas Convention Center. Registration is free in advance but $10 at the door. Visit www.gatsonline.com. --Mary Monigold

Lathered Up

If you don't watch it, you've at least heard about it--that bizarro serial that takes place in a New England town called Harmony and features a colorful collection of characters such as witches, demons and immortals. Passions is one soap opera chock-full of weirder plots and scripts than most other serials out there. Not to mention casting hotties like Galen Gering, who plays Luis Lopez-Fitzgerald. If you're a fan, Gering will be signing autographs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. September 28 at Dallas Market Hall as part of the KXAS Technology and Lifestyle Expo. The free event showcases an array of new technology and lifestyle tips and items. Market Hall is located at 2200 N. Stemmons Freeway. Visit www.nbc5i.com. --Jenice Johnson

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