When I was a kid, I loved going to the State Fair of Texas. ( “Fair Day” is an unofficial state holiday in Texas, along with 1. the start of football season; and, 2. the start of deer season. ) There was nothing better than riding the Yellow Dog with the other members of the Hico chapter of the Future Farmers of America to Dallas for the fair. We were supposed to spend most of our time at the livestock judging competition. But, face it, watching the crowning of the grand Champion duroc boar hog paled in comparison to strolling down the midway.
The midway was home to the games of chance and the carnies and the crappy food and rides that could kill an entire family and freak shows and an array of sights and sounds and smells that were almost intoxicating. There was also a bit of fear factor, too, that made the blood rush, when walking through the midway. It was rumored that there were pick pocketers everywhere and that the only way to keep a pick pocketer from picking ones pockets was to put your wallet in the front pocket upon entering the gates. I guess pick pocketers weren’t versed in frontal pocket picking, thank goodness, making it safe to carry ones valuables (particularly coupons) ONLY in the safety of the front pockets of ones Levis. Also, at the far end of the midway were “girlie” shows. In order to watch the belly dancers, one had to be 21. At 15 years old, there was no way I could get past the barker, even when I tired to bribe him with all the coupons I had in my front pocket. But I tried like hell!
Plus, I would always seem to lose my friends once or twice during the day, which forced me to wander Fair Park alone. I was scary to be alone at that age, even for s short time. Rumors also abounded which centered around young boys being sold to carnival workers and forced to run the ring toss and bottle games. Scary stuff.
But things aren’t the same at the State Fair, as I discovered on my recent return to Fair Park.
For starters, it’s not dirty and trashy. I walked through the entire length of the midway with nary one mustard-ladened corn dog wrapper stuck to the bottom of my shoe. Not one carney harrassed me. Is there now some kinda city ordinance banning carney harrassment? Upon inspection of the rides, not one was looked dangerous enough to die on if/when a pin came out of gear box. There are no girlie shows either. Dang. And freak shows, I am told, are not politically correct anymore.
Still, I enjoyed a corn dog and deep fried frito pie. I am going back to the fair again this Saturday to watch my beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders play Baylor, in a game of football in the Cotten Bowl. From what I hear, the men’s room still features “pee troughs”. Nothing like peeing in a trough while a bunch of drunks threaten to throw you in, if you don’t hurry up.
Ahh, the good old days….