Alice Column

The Cheap Bastard's Guide to the State Fair

The air is thick with the sweet smell of fried Pepcid. The Texas Star Ferris wheel beckons your sweaty butt to its benches. As you read this, a kid is puking up a Fletcher's corny dog on the Midway, just as a yellow-naped parrot bird-diarrheas onto audience heads at the Birds of the World bird show. And somewhere in the depths of this fair-ness, a grandma is flipping off her grandma competitors as she wins a blue ribbon for her jarred sweet pickles for the 10th straight year.

That's right: Fried Christmas is finally, officially here. And this year, you're determined to have a front-row seat as the new Big Tex rises like a Jesus-phoenix from the ashes of his Gus Fring-ed face. You will hug New Big Tex's big-as-Ron Perlman's-big-ass-face boots. That hole in your heart will heal upon his return. And you will immediately reopen that heart hole by shoving booze and fried everything into it.

But if you're not careful, the fair can drain your bank account faster than you can say, "Holy crap, how did I just spend $100 on balloon darts?" Admission is $17. Parking is $15. And all that deep-fried magic? It'll take as many dollars from your wallet as it will years off your life.

Fortunately, I'm a fair veteran and a noted cheap-ass, and I'm here to help you tame this beautiful beast without letting it punch you in the gut place, dry hump your wallet and put its creepy mustache on your bank account's privates. We're about to extreme-coupon the shit out of the fair, y'all. Hold onto your butts.