Award-winning student news since 1978

The Brookhaven Courier

Award-winning student news since 1978

The Brookhaven Courier

Award-winning student news since 1978

The Brookhaven Courier

Tex rises from the ashes

By Kathryn DeBruler

Staff Writer


The State Fair of Texas is once again prepared to open its gates and offer fairgoers the familiar yet uncomfortable embrace only corn dogs and carnies can.

The theme for this year’s fair, which runs through Oct. 20, is “The One and Only,” honoring Big Tex’s triumphant return after the events that transpired during last year’s “Burning Man” theme. State Fair officials could not be reached for comment — possibly because they are all preoccupied with stitching together the world’s largest pair of flame-retardant Dickies — but a recent press release did state that they are “planning a celebration befitting the gentle giant’s return.”

Whatever they have in mind, surely there is no better indicator than ostrich races that there is going to be more than one “One and Only” this year, as in jockeys saddled on top of big birds.

While forcing animals to move quickly in a linear fashion is nothing new to the fair, this will be the first time ticket holders get the chance to see animals with beaks moving quickly.

There are two races every weeknight in the Pan American Arena, one at 6 p.m. and one at 6:45 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays, an additional show is added at 7:45 p.m. For this reason, you should attend on weekends in order to maximize the number of times you can see animals with beaks being ridden by tiny men.

If you want to see a race with fewer feathers and plenty of pork, you are in luck. Pan Am Arena is also home to pig races. Sit back, breathe in that one and only smell o’ barn, and enjoy the lack of air conditioning as pigs take off, snout to tail, in pursuit of the chocolate sandwich cookie that awaits the winner. Races occur daily at 3, 4 and 5 p.m.

If you prefer your animals swooping overhead instead of running, head over to the Birds of the World show. Located in the historic Band Shell (which luckily overshadows the embarrassing blight that is Fair Park’s lesser, non-historic Band Shell), this is the 24th year for Birds trainer and emcee Steve Martin to delight audiences with his free-flight show.

No, it’s not the Steve Martin from “Bringing Down the House.” But this Steve Martin is cool, too. For one thing, he’s a master falconer. For another thing, he’s got a Yellow-Naped Amazon Parrot named Groucho, who sings a rousing rendition of “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” Avian patriotism is on display every day at 1, 2:30, 4:30 and 6 p.m.

Maybe animals aren’t your thing. Maybe you go for the midway, with its rides and games and huddled masses, all gathered under the iridescent glow of flashing neon lights. To get to the midway, follow the sounds of panic-induced screaming. Once you see the pale faces of children fresh off the Top o’ Texas Tower ride, you know you’re in the right place.

What with this being the Lone Star State and all, it just wasn’t good enough to have the biggest Ferris wheel in the United States. No, we had to build the Texas Tower, which debuted this past June during Summer Adventures in Fair Park.

This will be the first time fairgoers have the opportunity to be hurtled at a rate of 6.5 feet per second as the ride climbs to its 500-foot summit. While this is a paid attraction, it’s worth the 14 ride coupons, equivalent to seven dollars, to be able to stare down at the common simpletons going round and round in the glorified hamster wheel that is the Texas Star Ferris wheel.

Lastly, don’t forget to visit the Creative Arts Building. Because at the end of the day, there is nothing more equalizing than joining a stream of weary fairgoers as they seek sweet, air-conditioned relief.

Once inside, you will find all manner of handmade goods, from quilts to butter sculptures. This is the place where plate glass separates the fairgoer from the fairshower, where blueberry pies beget blue ribbons and silver-haired destinies are fulfilled. It is the place where those on the outside look on in amazement as one person forces saturated fat to submit to a chisel. It is the place where we gaze into the countenance of butter Elvis Presley and reflect on our time at the One and Only Texas State Fair.

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