Business financial make money capital trading
- I’m a lifelong New Yorker who recently visited Texas and spent a day at the biggest state fair in the US.
- Butter sculpting was disappointing, but the dog show was thrilling.
- Instead of partaking in turkey legs and cotton candy tacos, I ate pizza.
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I did not last long at the pig races.
The siren blared; the stadium erupted; perhaps 20 tiny pink creatures tumbled out of cages and onto a dirt arena, where they toddled forward in packs like so many porcine commuters at rush hour.
It was at this point that I stood up and began shuffling my way toward the exit, taking care not to step on any stuffed cowboys or knock the cotton candy out of unsuspecting children’s hands.
Watching the races had left me feeling some vague combination of nausea and outrage. I worried that if I stayed any longer, I’d be tempted to scoop up the pigs myself and set them free, a course of action that would almost assuredly lead to an encounter with the authorities.
Outside the stadium, I struggled to breathe deeply — had I been the racing pig, after all? — and squinted at a paper map of the State Fair of Texas.
Business financial make money capital trading The State Fair of Texas is the biggest state fair in the US. I visited on opening day.
I scanned the list of attractions — chainsaw carving (of timber) and auto shows among them — all of which seemed mercifully more humane than this one.
At 1 pm, it was 95 degrees and the sunshine was relentless. An ant crept slowly down my spine — no, it was just perspiration.
Why, exactly, was I here? From my climate-controlled office in New York City’s Financial District, spending opening day at the biggest state fair in the US seemed a delightful experience. I was headed to Dallas anyway, for a conference: How could I not seize the opportunity?
In the days leading up to the fair, I told multiple people about my plans to visit. Everyone wanted to know: Was I going alone? (Yes.) Did I often travel by myself? (More or less first-timer.) Had I ever been to Texas? (No; lifelong New Yorker here.) Did I like barbecue? (Vegetarian.) Then … why was I going? (Adventure?)
The roughly six hours I spent at the fair proved exhausting and exhilarating. At one point, I wandered dehydrated over to a concession stand selling cold water bottles, only to learn that each one cost eight coupons (the equivalent of $4).
“Eight coupons!” I shouted, in my best rendition of a Take-No-Crap New Yorker. “That’s a ripoff!”
The proprietor looked at me and smirked. “Lady,” he said, “you’re at the State Fair.”
Business financial make money capital trading A parade featuring the Shriners kicked things off.
The fair kicked off with a parade of floats blasting “Deep in the Heart of Texas.” (Too on the nose?)
Everyone around me went wild when a float bearing three men wearing fez hats and playing the guitar came into view. Later I learned these guys were in fact the Shriners, members of a famously philanthropic fraternity who on occasion participate in local parades.
Business financial make money capital trading My main incentive for visiting the fair was to see butter sculpting. Unfortunately, it was a huge disappointment.
Now it was time for some real fun.
By far the most compelling reason I had to visit the State Fair was butter sculpting, which I envisioned as a sort of performance art.
For the uninitiated, butter sculpting is exactly what it sounds like: An artiste shapes a giant clump of butter (you know, the kind you spread on bread) into someone or something’s likeness.
I arrived at the Creative Arts Building and saw a series of remarkable butter sculptures enclosed in refrigerated glass cases. Of the bespectacled women at the information booth, I asked, “When’s the next sculpting?”
She pointed in the direction of the refrigerated cases.
I clarified: When would I be able to see the sculptors in the act of shaping the butter?
“Oh, no,” she told me. “All the sculpting happens pre-fair.”
My heart sank. After all that, I would never be able to watch the sculptors in action. Total bust.
Business financial make money capital trading I was more curious to tour the livestock birthing barn, which houses pregnant and newborn animals.
A sign for the “livestock birthing barn” caught my eye.
Every animal in the birthing barn — which included sheep, cows, goats, and chickens — was either pregnant or a newborn. In one pen I saw a cow and her three-day-old calves, who slept in a heap in the corner.
Business financial make money capital trading I was shocked to hear that the animals had been transported from the farm where they live.
“So all these animals live here?” I asked a birthing room staffer.
“Of course not!” she told me. “They live on a farm. We brought them over on the truck this morning.”
Hold the phone.
These pregnant beings — including a cow who was evidently due to deliver the following day — had been dragged out of their home, strapped onto the back of a truck, and hauled off to a state fair, so some (hypothetical) imbecile from the East Coast could wave at them while snapping photos?
This was worse than pig races!
Business financial make money capital trading A goat was less than thrilled to be there.
A goat appeared as distraught as I felt about the whole situation. She stuck her head through a gap in the fence and we telecommunicated our mutual displeasure.
“Don’t worry, goathead,” I said silently. “You’ll get out of here soon.”
Business financial make money capital trading The fare at the fair included local delicacies like turkey legs …
Speaking of animals: For adventurous eaters, the State Fair will not disappoint.
Aside from the more traditional Texan fare (see the turkey legs pictured above), there are also more exciting options.
Business financial make money capital trading … as well as some more innovative culinary creations, like cotton candy tacos.
Perhaps you’d enjoy a cotton candy taco, or the adjective-heavy “deep-fried chicken cordon bleu stuffed waffles.”
A friend who visited the fair after I did told me she’d partaken in some alligator (“tastes like calamari”).
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Business financial make money capital trading I opted for pizza and ate it while listening to a cover artist perform in an area that reeked of manure.
I, however, enjoyed a giant slice of pizza and an equally giant cup of Coke, while sitting in an area that smelled heavily of manure and listening to a guitarist perform renditions of select oldies such as “Life Goes On.”
Business financial make money capital trading My favorite attraction was the stunt dog show. It was heartening to hear that some of the dogs had been rescued from homelessness.
It’s unclear to me why I returned to the stadium for a dog stunt show after the situation that had unfolded at pig races.
But I am pleased to report that my experience here was considerably more positive. As the dogs leapt over bars stationed 52 inches above ground and through a series of rings, then balanced on their hind legs while standing on their trainers’ heads, the trainers shared with the audience some fun facts about the animals.
As it turned out, most of these dogs had been rescued from homelessness or other unfavorable circumstances and adopted, after which they were trained as show dogs.
One performer, Kaboodle, was found wandering the side of the highway after wildfires had struck her hometown. Another had been enlisted as a bird dog, meaning he was supposed to help hunters find prey, but he was dismissed when it became evident that he was afraid of gunfire.
I must say: The dogs seemed happy. Which made me happy, too.
Business financial make money capital trading After six hours, I was overheated and exhausted — but glad to have experienced the magic of the State Fair of Texas firsthand.
By 5:30 pm, the blisters on my feet (note to self: sandals do not belong at state fairs) had made further perambulation near impossible.
As I headed toward the parking lot, I took a last look around me: the parents dragging kids, the kids dragging parents, the half-consumed turkey legs, the crumpled pamphlets describing what cows eat.
The day had been long and, at times, strange. But it was a kind of drawn-out strangeness I was glad to have experienced.
A giant and not entirely un-creepy cowboy bid me farewell. I waved in his direction. And it might have been the onset of heatstroke, or perhaps the setting sun was in my eyes, but I’m fairly certain he waved back.