Friday, October 19, 2012

The State Fair of Texas

Growing up I thought our state fair was the only one of its kind. Shoot, Pat Boone even crooned about it and the movie, State Fair, was even filmed at the State Fair of Texas. Central to the State Fair was Big Tex. Big Tex was always the place to meet your friends at the fair, but as the area around the statue grew, you would have to be quite clear on which side of Big Tex you planned to meet.

Each year, all the school children receive tickets and a day off to go to the fair. When I was growing up they even included a bus pass. We went almost every year. Sometimes it would be left up to mom to try to wrangle all four of us on and off buses and making all the necessary connections but we would spend the entire day there. The area around Big Tex became the beginning of the midway, where all the rides and carnival barkers could be found. But even better, around Big Tex is where you could buy a chameleon attached to a string that you could pin on your shirt. I dreamed of owning one of these but wasn't really sure where it would live when it wasn't attached to your shirt. This is also the area where they sold the more exotic items and I loved walking the whole way around the base of Big Tex to see these brilliant offerings.

Some times our family from Paris, Texas would come in and we would all go at night. This was quite a treat and we would spend considerable time in the agricultural displays. One year there was even a two headed cow as a main attraction. But we always made time to go by and see Big Tex and walk through the Midway.

In junior high and high school, our school bands would play in the nightly parade. That proved an even diffent type of perspective and experience. One year I was asked to bring a group of older adults to be the backdrop for a press conference by Medicare. We all got to meet the voice of Big Tex.

As a mom, I wanted to share this with my daughters. We've gone several times, but this year, we were especially excited about going to see the Chinese Lantern exhibit. We were in such a hurry to get to that exhibit that I did not make them stop in front of Big Tex like I have other years to take their picture. Instead we took it in front of the Chinese opera masks.


We had a great time seeing a bit of China in Dallas.

Today has been an incredibly busy day and not until I got home did I learn the news that Big Tex had caught fire and burned. I thought original posts about the fire were a really bad joke as I could not imagine such a thing happening to an icon for not only the fair, but for so many people.

I originally starting writing this post immediately after our trip to the fair and had put it aside until I had time to finish it but after seeing the pictures of Big Tex on fire, I had to finish it tonight. I'm surprised at how sad the whole thing makes me feel. I hope the link will work for you to see this very sad sight. It does feel like fodder for lots of jokes in the future, but right now, it is a part of my past that I hate to see lost. Big Tex goes up in flames

Reports are that the city has assured us that Big Tex will be rebuilt and be bigger and better. Only in Texas!

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