October 5, 2001
I went to the State Fair of Texas last weekend. When I was young my parents took me to the state fair of Arkansas, but I don't remember anything about it. When I was 6 years old, they took me to the World's Fair in New Orleans, and the only things I remember about that are a big ferris wheel that I was not allowed to ride, a merry-go-round with wild animals that I did ride, and a 3-D movie filmed in a helicopter that flew down the Mississippi River. That was a lot of fun, but it made my dad airsick.
Almost every summer I went to the local county fair where you get hot dogs and funnel cakes. When I was fairly young the town we lived in a pretty good fair every year, with lots of rides and they had an armband day when you could buy the armband and ride as many rides as you wanted without buying tickets. When I was a teenager, the county fair was held in a mud pit. Getting to the rides was an adventure in itself, and they weren't usually so great anyway. The funnel cakes were pretty good, though. I've never been interested in rodeos, but county fairs usually have one, and the carnival games where you throw the rings on the bottles and win a big Tweety bird. I never won anything.
So I went to the State Fair of Texas. The first PFFT! was $5 for parking and $11 to get in. That seemed a little steep, knowing I'd have to pay more for food, games, and rides. Indeed, you have to buy tickets to buy food, which seems not so good for the consumer in this case. The prices were reasonable, considering I was at a fair (cheaper than at ballgames, anyway), but the ride prices were high. I didn't want to pay $4 to ride something that folds out of the back of an 18-wheeler. They did have a lot of them though, and on the day I went, they weren't very busy. And they looked like fun, just not to a cheapskate like me.
We wandered around the livestock buildings, which were full of llamas, goats, and miniature donkeys on that day. I had no idea there were so many llamas in Texas. I expected pigs, cattle, and horses, but we didn't see many of them, except a small display about dairy cattle and the Anheiser-Busch clydesdales, which were on display. Huge, magnificent horses. We did see a horse show where acrobatic riders did tricks while riding galloping Arabian horses around the arena. It featured trained miniature stallions, which were cute, and gymnasts. It was an impressive show, and the only drawback was a Genie character who had this stupid over the top laugh during the whole thing. I guess it was for the kids.
The best thing about the fair was a building full of baby animals. They had the usual goats and lambs, but they had baby llamas, camels, African cattle, and even a giraffe. There were some week-old lambs with their mother, and that was the most adorable thing I'd seen in a long time. $11 is high, but for once a year, I'll put up with the cost.
Published: October 5, 2001