Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Love of Fair

“Fair” may not mean much to most people. Typically the word conjures an image of outdoor tables covered in red checkered cloth and pig-tailed kids mowing down cobs of buttered corn somewhere in the Heartland.

To me, it can only refer to the State Fair of Texas, and the love runs deep. Since I was born on October 7 in Dallas, the State Fair, my birthday and Fall’s arrival have all been intrinsically connected in my life. Even though my family moved to Louisiana when I was 3, numerous trips were made back to Dallas to see my grandparents and paternal relatives. Family traditions were started in Dallas – 7-Up floats made with Polar Bear ice cream, Mexican food at El Fenix, double birthday parties with my cousin, born exactly one year after me. And there were trips to the Fair… what I didn’t know at the time was that a long-time family tradition was being passed on to the next generation.

I have decades of memories at the Fair... salt water taffy pulling a loose tooth out, riding the original SkyWay, Fletcher’s corny dogs with MUSTARD, taking an annual picture in a Photo Booth, buying a mobile and giant paper flowers in the Embarcadero, free biscuits and pretty calendars at Food & Fiber... When I was a kid, my dad told me stories about his days spent at the State Fair, which was only blocks away from where he grew up. Yes, he was at the 1936 Centennial. I grew to love and appreciate the Fair’s Art Deco art and architecture created for that year.

But my favorite memories are the ones of bringing my kids to the Fair when they were little. There was the year that I convinced my then 3-year old eldest daughter to be a Butterfly Ballerina at the Backyard Circus, all of us watching the puppet show in the Hall of State (now in Creative Arts), the interactive exhibits at the Science Place and photos of kids on the trunk of the mastodon in front of Natural History Museum. Now it was my turn to pass along the State Fair tradition to the 5th generation.

So now, everywhere I go at the Fair – there is a memory – a building that was looking out at my dad when he was a little boy, streets that were walked by my great-grandparents in their early 20th century finery, renewed Midway rides from my youth, such as the Skyway – and a taffy stand that sells the candy that can dislodge loose teeth. Baby animals, Haunted Houses and Midway rides my kids loved.

This is the zenith of the year as far as I’m concerned… January through September is just tolerated until October arrives. If we’re lucky to get cool weather thrown in, it’s exhilarating. Football… Birthday… Fall weather… State Fair… sharing with my family, for generations to come.