The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

Local News

September 16, 2011

Day Trips: State Fair offers fun, food, fried stuff

HUNTSVILLE — Just a few short hours away sits the mecca of all things Texan.

Cowboy hats, carnival rides, cotton candy and cholesterol-laden fried foods – the State Fair of Texas proves the ‘everything is bigger’ motto in grand fashion – complete with Big Tex, the only man in the state who can rival Huntsville’s Big Sam.

Big Sam at 67 feet tall towers over Big Tex’s 52-foot-tall frame. Tex has one clear advantage in that big mouth of his. A gigantic microphone booms out fair information through the entire Dallas Fair Park.

I wonder if the city of Huntsville has ever considered having Big Sam talk to Interstate 45 travelers? He could sling out pithy comments about how people should visit his home or have a burger at Mr. Hamburger.

I’m picturing him being voiced by Larry McDugle at the Sheriff’s Office. If you don’t know Larry, you’re missing out on meeting a real Huntsville legend. His voice reminds me – and fellow co-workers – of actor Sam Elliott and he comes complete with handlebar mustache and tall white hat. He’d make a good voice for Big Sam if the city should ever decide to let Big Sam talk to his fans. Hint, hint, Statue Visitor’s Center...

Back to the topic at hand, this year’s state fair even has ties to Sam himself. The Sam Houston Memorial Museum has loaned several items from its collection of Sam Houston memorabilia to be put on display, including Houston’s Stetson hat and walking stick.

If you’re looking for a more visceral fair experience, the fair’s most stomach churning activity isn’t riding the 212-foot Texas Star Ferris wheel. This year’s gastro-challenge is reading, then tasting, the list of fair food contest winners. The fair is known as the Fried Food Capital of Texas and this year’s winners take the (fried) cake.

Best taste went to Buffalo chicken in a flapjack. Hot. Chicken. In a pancake? I’m thinking ... not so much. Most creative went to fried bubble gum. Yes, you read that right. Batter on some Bazooka Joe is still better than last year’s winner -- fried beer. I can’t begin to imagine how you fry beer. Regardless, you can try these or your favorites this year, along with fried pineapple-upside-down cake and fried Texas salsa.

In other mind-boggling news, the fair has a pig race. I’ll just let that sink in for a minute. You can bet on which pig will take home the prize. Witnessing that little contest alone is worth the $16 admission price.

For those of you not interested in pig racing – and if that’s the case, there’s no hope for your sense of humor – there are several musical acts performing on stages throughout the park. KC and the Sunshine Band, Jack Ingram, Thompson Square and Randy Travis will all perform this year.

The State Fair of Texas officially begins Sept. 30 and runs through Oct. 23. If you go, be sure to send The Huntsville Item a photo of your family with Big Tex for the Item’s Facebook page.

For more information on the state fair, visit www.bigtex.com.

More Events

The 62nd annual Trinity Community Fair features a parade, carnival and more. The fair will be held at the Trinity Community Center, 806 S. Robb, from noon to 10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23 and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24. For more information, visit www.trinitycommunityfair.com.

Tori Brock can be reached at tbrock@itemonline.com

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