Ask someone from out of state what sticks with them after a visit to the State Fair of Texas, and two things spring to mind: state pride and all things fried.
"Texas has a unique culture of its own," Sydnee Hyer of Park City, Utah, said as about 20 Texas flags flapped in the wind overhead. "No other state has such state pride."
A large map of the U.S. and the world welcomes visitors to the fairgrounds and encourages them to "show us where you're from."
On the map, red dots swarm across North Texas like a cloud of lady bugs, but some wander to far-off places, like Mongolia, Argentina and Iceland.
Marina Dikosso, who lives in Arlington, walked up to the map and put her red dot over Cameroon. She came to Texas from Central Africa five years ago.
"I love it here," Dikosso said. "It's hot, but I love it."
Hyer and her husband are used to crowds and battling for parking because the annual Sundance Film Festival is hosted in their city. But that doesn't compare to the State Fair, they said.
For her first fair trip, Hyer was determined to try the food.
"Deep fried Twinkies, fried butter, funnel cakes," she said. "All the food, then go on a diet when I get home."
First-timer Kirsten Murphy flew in from Kalamazoo, Mich., with her dad to visit her aunt in Garland.
"The food here is a lot spicier," she said. "And everything's fried."
When Murphy left Michigan on Sunday, it was 60 degrees, 30 degrees cooler than in Dallas.
Murphy's father, who's used to working outside in the cold of Williston, N.D., said he liked wearing shorts in October.
"It's always nice to come here," said Patrick Murphy, whose last trip to the fair was in 1984. "The park is better; they're fixing it up."
Tessa Bishop of Columbus, Ohio, brought her two daughters to the fair, along with her aunt, a Texas transplant who lives in Garland.
"We have the Ohio State Fair, but it's not as big," Bishop said. "And you can get fried anything here."