Of course, the big state fair is in Dallas, but that never stopped Texans from having their own local fairs. Every year around this time, the suffocating August heat breaks into a cool 92 degrees, leaves begin to fall on the back porch and Friday night football causes traffic jams to the high school stadium.
This Labor Day week-end, the Central Texas State Fair cranked up at the Expo Center in Belton. Mom and I loaded up the Jeep and headed for an hour’s drive up Hwy 35. When we turned into the parking area, Tony, a member in good standing with the Texas Sheriff’s Posse, pulled his horse along side the Jeep,
“Please follow me, ma’am.” Off he trots as I dutifully follow behind. Yes, only in Texas would the parking attendant ride a horse, wear a cowboy hat, chaps and spurs. New York City’s cowboy doesn’t wear clothes! What kind of cowboy is that?
Tickets were an affordable $5.00 at the gate. Once inside the fairgrounds, the smell of corny dogs, funnel cakes and cheesy curly fries drifted down the midway. Number one priority was to get my funnel cake fix. The combination of grease and sugar and out of the fryer hot is at its peak of tastiness when kids are laughing and calliope music’s whistling.
Smiles tell the story. The fair is all about play. The crash of the bumper cars, the thrill of being suspended in mid-air
the make believe of riding a bull.
The carnies coax a couple to throw a ball, win a prize. “Aw, too bad. So close. Here, try again?” Curious about tomorrow? Mother Hanna will tell your future for a mere $5.00. What a deal!
The real work waits inside the livestock arena. Young people crouch in pens, grooming their best friends, encouraging them to behave and show off to win the blue ribbon. The moment arrives, the nervous participants parade into the arena. The judge is swift, watches with a knowing eye and pronounces the best of the bunch. They’re all winners.
As Mom and I left the fairgrounds, rain began to gently fall. Jenny, the gate attendant, thanked us for coming and “ya’ll come back real soon.” Tony, our cowboy-parking sheriff, tipped his hat, “Have a safe trip home, ladies.”
As we drove off toward home, the taste of funnel cake still lingering on my tongue, “I love Texas, don’t you, Mom!”
She just smiled.