Friday, October 10, 2014

Big Tex Says, ‘Howdy’!

Texas Flag
Fall days in north Texas can be ‘hotter ‘an a fire cracker’, ‘colder ‘an all git-out’, ‘rainin’ a frog-strangler’ or absolutely glorious. And when the State Fair of Texas is in town, the glorious days are rather rare. One year we waded in water up to our knees to get from the parking lot to the fair grounds. The sanitation workers were selling ‘rain bags’ ~ trash bags with head and arm holes torn in them; another year we wore our down jackets, braving 30 mph frigid winds to watch the dog show and pig races. This year we were very lucky to experience a wonderful autumn day. The temperature topped out at about 85oF and there was a gentle breeze blowing ~ just enough to ripple the Texas flag.

For many people, the biggest draw is the new car show. Others
come to see the winning entries in the arts and crafts events. Still others come for the dance
L to R: Cloggers, Armadillo,
Seal, Belly Dancers
exhibitions, live music, shopping and people watching. But perhaps the biggest participant event is the food sampling. This year’s new choices include Deep Fried Sweet Tea, Deep Fried Stuffed Gorditas, and Deep Fried Milk and Cookies on a Stick. Notice that the common denominator is ‘Deep Fried’. Eight entries vied for the coveted ‘Big Tex Choice Awards’, none of which we actually tried, but they looked pretty tasty. One of our group did try the Texas Firecracker, a tamale stuffed with shredded chicken, cheese, jalapeños and then (you guessed it) deep fried. Through slightly tearing eyes, he pronounced it, ‘Good!’ The rest of the Near-Normal Travelers enjoyed an original Fletcher’s Corny Dog; yes, it has to be Fletcher’s and you have to get it at the Fair for it to be traditionally correct. Topped with yellow mustard (and a bit of ketchup for the odd member of our group), so hot from the fryer that it burns your lips and washed down with a cold beer, it’s the height of the Fair experience for us.

L to R: Fair Food, Andi & Steve with Corny Dogs

No matter when you’re in Dallas, Texas, Fair Park is worth a visit. Designed by architect
L to R:Big Tex, Cotton Bowl,
Lone Star Blvd
George Dahl in the 1930s for the Texas Centennial, these grounds are home to some of the best art deco
architecture, sculpture and murals in the DFW area. The Texas Centennial Exposition was on the level of a World’s Fair attracting more than six million visitors from around the globe. Thankfully the original buildings with their artwork have been restored, allowing visitors to be a part of the history of the area while enjoying current exhibitions and events. One of the largest, and rowdiest, events held at Fair Park was annual the Cotton Bowl football game, the Red River Rivalry. For years the game was played between the University of Texas Longhorns and the University of Oklahoma Sooners, but with the changing conferences this tradition has changed. The game is still played, but it doesn't affect conference standings. There's still a lot of craziness associated with football in Texas.

Although you can’t get into many of the original buildings, the interest lies on the outside and the giant murals above entrances and along walls. The murals represent all sorts of human enterprise from welding to mining to farming, denoting what sorts of displays were originally inside. The art in the Porticos are an homage to the six nations of which Texas was at one time a part. Originally a part of Spain (1519-1685), Texas was briefly occupied by France (1685-1690) then reoccupied by Spain (1690-1821). The Spanish were succeeded by Mexico (1821-1836). Texas won its independence from Mexico through some of the most famous battles in American history: the Battle of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto.
The Republic of Texas lasted from 1835 until 1845 when Texas became the 28
th of the United States. Seceding from the Union in 1845, Texas was the seventh state to join the Confederacy which lasted until 1861. Finally, in 1865 Texas re-joined the Union as the only state that is allowed to fly its flag on the same level as the United States Flag. This is because Texas was once a separate Republic.

Scattered around Fair Park Buildings are a variety of sculptures. As with the murals, six females are associated with the countries to which Texas once belonged. Raoul Josset sculpted the women for Mexico, Spain and France while Lawrence Tenney Stephens
created those representing Spain, The Confederacy and the Republic of Texas. These statues are 20 feet tall (on 12 foot pedestals) and face each other across one of the ponds. Two other figures grace the pond the female sculptures face; these bright silver figures of a male and female appear ready to dive into the water. However my favorite sculpture on the Fair Park grounds is Woofus. Erected to represent the animals most commonly found at the Fair, he is a combination of a sheep, horse, hog, duck, turkey and Texas Longhorn; he spends his time spitting water into a small fountain.


Hall of State is open year-round and has murals depicting scenes from across the state incorporating industry, agriculture and the arts into the Texas landscape. The walls also show famous Texas battles and different areas of the state. The G.B. Dealey Library houses some of the Texas archives including an online Photographic Catalog, a Portal to Texas History, and Bridgeman Images, all maintained by the Dallas Historical Society. There are plenty of other museums and other exhibits to catch your interest, but if you visit them all,
Tejano Indian
you’ll spend much more than just one day:

  • African-American Museum
  • Perot Museum of Nature and Science at Fair Park
  • Children's Aquarium at Fair Park
  • Texas Discovery Gardens
  • South Dallas Cultural Center

Each of these sites is a pleasant place to see when you visit the Fair Park area.

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