The smell of fried corny dogs and funnel cakes floating through the cool fall air and a bustling Midway could only mean one thing: Opening day of the State Fair of Texas has finally arrived. As fireworks shot into the sky over the esplanade, we set out to find a few of the Big Tex Choice Award treats. While we didn't try every finalist (Editor's Note: Other GuideLive writers did!), the Texas fajita fries, fried Texas sheet cake and beer-battered beef jerky did not disappoint.
The diverse and sometimes bizarre selection of deep-fried foods isn't the only draw for the State Fair's first day. Arlington's own Maren Morris excitedly opened the Chevrolet Main Stage this year to a large and eager crowd. With her sweet Southern charm and tenacious voice, the motivated country star began singing in small bars and honky tonks while still in school to kick-start her musical career. After moving to Nashville, Morris wrote cuts for Tim McGraw and Kelly Clarkson, proving she can not only perform note-worthy songs, she can also write them.
Morris' soulful runs and occasional gritty growls enhanced the evening performance, giving the country set a pop-rock edge. Both men and women swayed and sang along to her cheerful tracks, "80s Mercedes" and "I Could Use A Love Song" on Friday night. The 2017 Grammy Winner owned the stage and excelled while performing both up-tempo numbers and slowed dusty acoustic songs. One of many shining moments came during her gorgeously chilling rendition of John Prine's "Angel From Montgomery" (made famous by Bonnie Raitt). Morris's smoky, stair-stepping runs and twangy dips brought this gospel-inspired country classic to life.
The hour-long set also included her breakout hit, "My Church," and a short duet with her fiancé and fellow songwriter, Ryan Hurd. They sang "Last Turn Home," a country ballad the pair wrote together and eventually sold to Tim McGraw.