There's a way to do the State Fair of Texas and now, there's also the Real Housewives of Dallas star (and former carnie) LeeAnne Locken's way. Fans will remember her carnival past (Season One) and that the "Mouth of the South" carnie even got engaged at the Fair to longtime love Rich Emberlin (Season Two) of the Bravo reality show.
She has fond memories of growing up around a carnival and of the State Fair of Texas, which runs through Oct. 21.
Here are five of her favorite things:
The balloon stand
Rich Emberlin surprised Locken with a proposal at a balloon stand during the second season of Real Housewives of Dallas. ("You did it in my home turf," she said at the time.) In the carnival game, located throughout the Midway, players throw at balloons attached to a board in the hopes of bursting one or two to win a prize. Locken did that and got an engagement ring.
"That game will always have a special place in my heart," says Locken. "But I cannot guarantee a diamond ring." She will give a pro tip, though: "Hint. Go for the shiny ones. They pop easier."
"Or funnel cake," Locken says. "I try to have both. Oh, God, they're so good. They're like doughnuts on crack." Whispers: "And it's kind of like a State Fair tradition."
Fletcher's Original State Fair Corny Dogs
The State Fair of Texas staple has caused many debates about the proper way to eat it. With the lines long to get one, though, the right answer could be "right away."
Locken has something to say about that: "With mustard only. That's the only way I eat it. And that poor stick never saw me coming."
The Texas Star
It's the State Fair's most popular ride and, at 212 feet, was once North America's tallest. The icon made its debut in 1985.
The ride holds a special place in Locken's heart for a few reasons: "You have to ride it because it's the largest. If you're gonna do the state fair, do the state fair," Locken says. "It's the first thing that Rich and I did after we got engaged. If you're gonna come to Texas, don't be thinking you're gonna get something small. There's nothing quiet or small about our state."
The swan boats
The swan boats are what you think they are. Located in the lagoon on the fairgrounds, the boats can hold a couple or a couple and a small child comfortably. The boats are in the shape of a gigantic swan, painted white with a black bar where the eyes would be and a strong bright beak. With the lights hitting off the water, it can be a pleasant ride. But not for everyone, according to Locken, who is fending off rumors about her relationship in the show's third season.
"He hated that ... which made me love it even more," she says about her fiance. "It's so romantic. I love the little swans out on the lake."
The Real Housewives of Dallas airs Wednesdays at 8 on Bravo.