Less than a week ago, I wouldn't have considered myself a Texan. Born and raised in a suburb of Detroit, I knew that moving to Dallas in May wasn't going to be enough to shed my Michigander identity.
In an attempt to assimilate to Texas culture, I did my duty: I went to the State Fair of Texas so I could chow down and drink up like Dallasites do.
Plus, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
5:31 p.m.: This is expensive.
My State Fair experience began as most do -- by shelling out $18 to gain entry to the massive fairgrounds. (Not everyone had to pay full price; patrons who arrive after 5 p.m. with an empty Dr Pepper can receive 50 percent off the price of admission any day of the fair.) Upon entry, I caught glimpses of the rides and rollercoasters until my vision blurred* from the mouth-watering, mind-numbing smell of deep fried goodness. I said a few things that can't be repeated in print, and we set out to find a State Fair staple: a Fletcher's corny dog.
*The author may have slightly exaggerated here. Only slightly.
5:54 p.m.: Corny dogs are the bomb.
Without much delay, we found one of the many Fletcher's stands and got in line. There were hordes of hungry humans! The shortest line was 30 people long, though it took only a few minutes.
Corny dog in hand, I smothered it in its most complementary condiment -- mustard, I was told -- and found a seat. The first bite fulfilled my expectations: tangy, slightly crunchy, and fried to golden-brown perfection. Until then, I'd never, ever eaten a corny dog**, so I was pleasantly surprised that my stomach was unperturbed after eating breaded, unhealthy meat.
**I'm sure this is something of a crime in Texas but please don't send me back to Michigan I like it here it's warm all the time.
6:02 p.m.: Everything is not bigger in Texas.
Right there: It's Big Tex!
If I'm being honest, I thought Big Tex would be bigger.
I was expecting to see a football-field-sized man-statue with boots the size of my apartment. I discovered he stands at just 55 feet tall with boots the size of my kitchen (which is still a big portion of my apartment). Of course, I got a photo.
6:05 p.m.: Out-of-towners, don't skip the autos.
Next stop: the auto show. Having grown up just outside the Motor City, I have a special place in my heart for all things automotive. Now: I know very little about cars. Still, when I saw the silver Corvette Z06 perched and shining on display, my heart purred like an engine. Our tour through the auto show was short-lived but a much-appreciated reminder of home.
Also: There's air-conditioning in there.
6:14 p.m.: The new margarita? Nope.
I decided to try a Big Tex Choice Awards winner: the smoky bacon margarita. A few minutes from now, I'd realize how overhyped this drink is. I watched as a worker swirled neon green frozen margarita into my cup and haphazardly topped it with bacon bits.
It was lazy at best and headache-inducing at worst. Even my fellow GuideLive-ers didn't like it. After drinking less than half, I tossed it in the trash and saved room for my next fair delicacy...
6:26 p.m.: Oh my, fried Oreos.
The State Fair gods decided to take pity on me, maybe, so with delectable scents they lured me to the best fair food I could have asked for: fried Oreos.
I'm not one for fried foods -- or, for that matter, Oreos -- but this combination just seemed so right. The melted cream filling was undeniably more delicious when warmed in a cocoon of fried dough, and the usually crisp cookie seemed to dissolve on my tongue in an instant. Eating fried Oreos was pure bliss.
6:47 p.m.: Is that The Beach Boys?
We walked past the Beach Boys playing "Barbara Ann" on the Chevrolet Main Stage. It was rump-shaking galore. Seeing a 50-year-old band rock out at the famous State Fair of Texas wasn't what I expected. But boy, the crowd loved them.
7:03 p.m.: It isn't the State Fair without a ride on the Ferris wheel.
My first trip to the fair is coming to a close, but before I left, I had to ride the Ferris wheel.
Forty minutes later -- 40 minutes! -- we got on the ride. Is the wait always that long?
Now that we're in the smallish cabin with another couple, I start to feel anxious. Did I mention I have a fear of heights? Great idea to go on the Ferris wheel.
As we moved upwards, I gazed at the gorgeous view of downtown Dallas at night. My anxiety lessened a bit the during second trip around, so by the time I was looking at the skyline again, I was closer to awestruck than panic-stricken. For a once-a-year experience, it was definitely worth it.
8:10 p.m.: The games on the Midway are the worst.
My last request before leaving the fair was to play one of the Midway games. We tried out the shoot-the-water-in-the-hole game, which is the best name I can come up with for "the one where they took our money." That's how it works, right?
Beginning to end, the fair simply met my expectations. Was it the greatest experience of my life? Definitely not. Will I go back next year? Absolutely. I'll need more fried Oreos.