Monday, October 3, 2011

The Tex-Ecks Take on the State Fair of Texas

We moved to Texas in March and from the moment the wheels of the plane hit the runway at DFW we've been counting down the minutes until the State of Fair of Texas opened its doors.

We love fairs, everything about them: fried food in abundance, wine gardens, arts and crafts, live-stock, and watching kids on rides that would make us lose all of the fried foods and wine we've consumed.

The State Fair of Texas was a disappointment. There I said it.

We went on a Monday at mid-day, mostly because I just got my foot out of a walking cast and we wanted to avoid the crowds. We took the DART from Richardson, which was easy and let us out right at an entrance to the park.

Immediately I headed toward the animals, passing through the car pavilion which had a few classic cars -  beautiful - and lots of new models of major car brands available for folks to get up close and personal. And then we went through the Crafts and Foods pavilion where there were just a few exhibits and the store. Except the store was closed. All day. For inventory. Really? It's the morning of the third day of the fair and they are closed, for inventory.

In the crafts building there were, again, just a handful of vendors. Most of the goods were perfunctory and very little was distinct. There was more original art at the Wildflower Festival in Richardson back in May.

'The animals', I thought, 'they can't mess up the animals'. We marched determinedly toward the last pavilion. Right up into the EMPTY pens. Fresh sawdust. No animals. No pigs. No cows. No bunnies. No goats. No chickens. Not even the smell of manure to prove that at one point there had been live-stock, alive, on the premises. There was a show going on, but did it require ALL of the animals at the fair? That would be weird.

And lastly, there's the food.

I repeat, we love fried food. Fried food starts with the temptation of the aromas that reach around corners and grab you by the nose hairs, dragging you in a trance to the basket and hot oil from which emerge luscious foods. Smells of onions, meats, batters, sugar, all mixed with heat and oil and love should embrace fairgoers.

Today, no smells.  No embrace.

Here's the thing, everything we bought came out from under a heat lamp and there were no smells. No aroma of fried deliciousness, not even the aroma of fried fried stuff. We had Corny Dogs, good to taste, but super heavy later. And we had chicken fried bacon - the batter was tasty, but the bacon was sliced super thin and kinda limp all on it's own.

The one good thing, despite the lack of flirtatious sensory engagement, was the fried lemonade. A sweet cake soaked with lemonade and fried like a beignet. It was good. That's it.

So, Tex, I have to tell ya - I had hoped for better from the largest state fair of all of the states. And maybe this just wasn't your moment, but I hope you won't blame me for coming on the wrong day or at the wrong time. You've been at this for 125 years and you only have to "make it work" for less than thirty days. I wish you the best, but I won't miss you.