Tasting the State Fair tradition

Alexis Harris, Staff Writer

In Texas, the state fair is no ordinary carnival.  It is a stepping stone to fall.  It is the food precedent to Thanksgiving, and the only day with more toys than Christmas.  It kicks off fall concerts.  It revives family night.  Through the fair, a regular Sunday night can be turned into a food-stuffed, ride-flipping tizzy.  Forget Sunday night football – that’s why highlights were created.  There are no highlights when it comes to tradition.

Tradition is funnel cake for a late breakfast and cotton candy as an appetizer.  Tradition is bringing a stash of floss to remove the corn-on-the-cob pieces from your teeth.  Tradition is the feeling of pure illness after attempting to ride that spinning, flipping, twisting contraption just minutes after gorging in this year’s top taste award winning creation.  Tradition is the State Fair of Texas.

Fulfilling the state fair experience cannot be done in one day.  But if it is to be attempted, it should be illegal to do without a strategy.  Without a strategy, some might leave the fair after only a few fries, a lemonade and a ride around the carousel.  My Gosh man, for the sake of Texas pride plan ahead.

First, it is important not to eat breakfast.  Fair Park is 277 acres covered in food, rides, games and exhibits – all of which should be seen at least once.  Energy is a must-have.  So upon arrival, start with a foot-long Fletchers’ corn dog.  If it’s been state-fair-famous for 62 years, it must be tradition.  However, for a starving soul who takes a huge bite the moment it is placed in their hand, they might want to rethink.  Burning one’s tongue off makes tasting the other marvelous creations difficult.  Instead, try smothering it with cool mustard, which is placed under the 1950s-inspired carts.

To finish off the tradition, sniff your way to the nearest turkey leg stand.  The larger-than-your-face hunk of meat will give you the perfect amount of energy to head to the stables.  The pins of pigs and barns of horses and cows might not be ideal for everyone because of their profuse odor, but it is perfect for the truest of Texans.

After marking off two honorary fair foods, the time for the more unique concoctions will arrive – just after the first stomach growl.  This year, fried jambalaya has jumped its way into the best taste award finalists.  The Louisiana lovers are first in line for this one.  The crisp golden balls are filled with creamy rice and just the right touch of kick.  The bit of Louisiana spice is just enough to send someone right on over to the lemonade stand.

For those who have ever sat down with a bowl of raw cookie dough, the cookie dough balls at the state fair are made for them.  However, a sweet tooth is required to make it through two golf ball-size rounds of the gooey chocolate chip cookie dough.  The crunchy outside is drizzled in chocolate, making it the second best chocolate lover’s treat – right behind the deep-fried heavenly brownies.  It is not enough to just have the crust of the brownie, because inside is a layer of oozing whipped cream, right under the golden outside keeping it in the perfect ball.

On the way to the glittering rides at night is a stand selling fried bubble gum.  Keep walking.  It is not real bubble gum, but a fried marshmallow with bubble gum flavoring.  The sign needs to be changed to fried marshmallow because the deception causes many unknowing wanderers to spend nearly $5 on a lie.  Instead, head straight to Thrillway which is full of the fastest and biggest rides around – anything else is not worth $5 a ride.  Go big or go home.