Falling for Big Tex's Line

Fair warning: So what is it about Big Tex? Is he the devil, or are we just dumb? How does that tall, black-haired State Fair icon tempt us back to Fair Park year after year, though we know pretty much exactly what we'll get?

It's not that we don't love the State Fair. We just can't figure out why. But there we are, perennially lured by Big Tex's booming, dopey "Howdy, folks! Welcome to the State Fair of Texas!"

And every year, it's the same: We shell out exorbitant fees to desperate, low-wage attendants to park in an impoverished neighborhood that never seems to get better. We hit the booth and get our tickets, then wander aimlessly around Fair Park's aging, seedy infrastructure, lured to the midway looking for a few minutes of exorbitantly priced ... what? Fun? Pleasure? Hope?

What a sucker Buzz is, making those impossible gambles on rigged games on the off chance we might win some piece of cheap gimcrackery manufactured in China. (This is the year. ... This year we really will shoot out all of the star on the target and be a winner. We never learn.)

We wander by the auto show, checking out gas-guzzling American-made trucks we'd never buy and lusting over sleek imports we can't afford.

We line up at the fried-food booths, paying way too much for greasy, unhealthy, bizarre handfuls of oil that we'd never touch in our right minds. A deep-fried glob of butter? How, Big Tex, do you persuade us to pollute ourselves again and again?

Oh, and the carnival rides and the fun house, spinning our heads and distorting our images, leaving us dizzy and confused. Above it all, giant American flags whip and patriotic music blares over the PA system, adding to the cacophony and dulling the brain till one hardly knows what's real.

Big Tex towers at the center of it all — a mindless, empty-headed figure with a doofusy drawl, his chest puffed out, telling us that we're at the State Fair of Texas, so we must be having a good time.

When the day's over, we wander out, a bit hung over, greasy and vaguely nauseated, asking ourselves, "How could we swallow that? What were we thinking? Where did all our money go?"

Yep, it's the State Fair of Texas, and it's like nothing else on the planet.

Well, maybe there is one thing sort of like it, but we'll have to wait until November 2012 to be sure.

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Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams