Kevin Brown/State Fair of Texas

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By Jessica Hickley

For some of you, the State Fair isn't about Texas, fried food or the big man in big boots. It's about winning--about doing the Fair better and harder and stronger and smarter than hordes of ordinary fairgoers. It's about chronicling conquests that will have friends, co-workers and jealous exes saying: "Aw, how did they get to see that at the Fair?!" And it's about saving your money and your time for only the crème de la crème of attractions.

For you, oh budding State Fair pro, we present these tips to win the State Fair of Texas.

1. The best bathrooms are at the Women's Museum.

First things first: the facilities. If you're like us, when you're overrun by a mass of humanity, the most wonderful attraction of all is a pristine and spacious restroom -- somewhere you can retreat and collect yourself (and, of course, contend with the fried whatever you've masochistically  consumed).

There has been ample reporting on the matter. The verdict: the restroom at the Women's Museum. It's perfectly isolated, so the traffic is low. And it has the cold-stone, reverberating feel of a palace. Just the place. If you can't hold it, then try the restrooms at the food court in the Tower Building, or in the Automobile Building, near the Chevrolet section.

2. Satisfy every thrill impulse with the Disc-O ride.

Look, there are a lot of rides. Some swing, some spin, some flip. Some scare the devil out of you; some leave you underwhelmed at great expense. Unless you're a ride fiend, we suggest streamlining your obligatory State Fair ride experience to the Disc-O ride. You get a little bit of swinging, a little spinning and even a little roller-coaster action. And it's halfway between child's play and stomach-turning.

3. Eat a veggie dog at Fletcher's Corny Dogs.

Since 1942, the Fletcher family has been plying fairgoers with their impossibly delicious corny dogs. This year, for the first time, Fletcher's offers a veggie corny dog, made from a "soy-based protein." (Not that corny dog lovers particularly care what corny dogs are made out of.) Be one of the first adopters. Purists be warned: these are vegetarian, not vegan. They're fried in the same ol' oil as the meat sticks.

4. Also eat the Cowboy Corn Crunch.

If you want something a little different but not too over the top (looking at you, Smoky Bacon Margarita), get a taste of the Cowboy Corn Crunch. It's a little bit spicy, a little bit creamy and packs a heaping dose of sweet corn crunch. Oh, and it's fried (duh) and served in a palm leaf cone that makes for easy portability. It's a nice yin to your corny dog yang.

5. Eat your heart out on Thrifty Thursdays.

What's better than Fair food? Fair food at a discount. This almost-too-good-to-be-true deal is on the table every Thursday of the Fair's run and includes many of its most popular treats, including Tornado Taters, funnel cake, cotton candy, fried peanut butter and jelly, nachos, pizza and more. Get as much as half off your favorite guilty pleasures without, well, guilt.

6. Watch the wood chips fly.

Burt Fleming may not look like your typical artist, but he can sculpt a block of wood into lifelike creatures, all with the flourish of his chainsaw. Check out his live renderings on the Truck Zone Stage, where he's carving and cracking wise daily.

7. Get low with the ZuZu African Acrobats.

This agile bunch of acrobats takes limbo to new lows in their high-energy show. They dance, they tumble, they contort, they joke and they win audiences over with their infectious charm and navel-baring costumes. Just be happy it's them and not you trying to squeeze under that bar.

Jessica Hickley is the one person who moved from Austin to Dallas and is happy about it. She writes poetry, eats pad Thai compulsively and likes tween stars unironically.

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