Your East Texas State Fair Survival Guide
We here at the studio have once again put our heads together and come up with a list to help our fans out. Every year the East Texas State Fair rolls through Tyler. The 11 day long event is fun and exciting, but can cause a few headaches, sometime even a few stomachaches. So here is our personal survival guide to help make the fair as enjoyable as it can be for you and the family. Follow some of these suggestions and it could possibly be the best time you have ever had at the fair.
Being a parent, I want to keep my eye on the kids at all times. Growing up in Tyler and the surrounding area, I have missed the fair only a few times. During my teen-age years, the weekend was the only time to go. You weren't cool if you didn't. Now that I am a parent, I know that the weekend is the busiest time for the fair and trying to get on some of the rides is a horror. I have found that with kids, going during the middle of the week is great. Late afternoon when it's starting to cool off, plus it isn't as crowded, so keeping my eye on the kids is easy. They also don't have to wait in long lines to get on the rides or eat. Who wants to stand for 20 minutes to get that delicious funnel cake? The kids have a great time and get to see all the shows and have plenty of time for rides or games. One other perk is that there is always an open place to sit and eat your turkey leg or foot long corn dog. So if you are a parent with younger kids, take off work early and try going Mon-Thur.
Marcie, like most parents, wants her children to be responsible. She has them do work around the house to earn money to pay their own way. “Starting two weeks before the fair, my kids begin to earn their fair money. If they want to go crazy on the rides and games, they have to do some work around the house. From washing the floorboards and windows to cleaning the garage. When the work is done, which coincides with the beginning of the fair, I empty out the bank account and it is fun time.” She throws in one more tip before our talk is done. “Take some motion sickness pills about an hour before you get on the rides. You don't want to go and get sick in front of a bunch of strangers — even worse, on a bunch of strangers.”
Jessalyn knows that cleanliness is important. Sometimes you just aren't sure how clean the next person is. “I take a small bottle of hand sanitizer with me when I go to the fair.”Jessalyn says. “With all the people that go to the fair, germs are everywhere. The person ahead of you could have been eating a turkey leg. Touching the same rail or door knob is the same as shaking hands. It is important to me to keep my hands sanitized. I have no problem sharing either. Sometimes you don't think of these small things and I am always willing to share,especially if it is a mom wanting some for child. You can pick up a small purse size bottle or even a smaller key chain size, for a reasonable price.” This is a great idea for parents. Keep your young ones germ free and healthy.
Lucky Larry has the right idea, money, money, and more money. If you want to get that special someone an eight foot stuffed teddy bear, those games cost money, and aren't easy to win at either. There is also the wide variety of food. It isn't like McDonalds, you can't get a happy meal for a few bucks. There is also the parking fees, entrance fees, and tickets for the rides. If you got kids, all of that adds up quick. There is cotton candy, hamburgers, funnel cake, and to many more to mention. Then you got almost every ride in the fair that costs you two or more tickets. You might not get to ride the Zipper this year. So start putting a little back every week, and you should be good to go.
Leslie believes everyone should eat the Funnel cake. This delicious cake is fried and covered in powdered sugar. Not the most healthy, but everyone should cheat a little. “I love the funnel cake.” Leslie said, “My jaw hits the ground when I hear people say they have never tried it. It has to be sent from heaven. The sweet crispiness of the cake mixed with the powdered sugar makes my taste buds scream for more. Every year I make sure to get one, maybe two. I have even went to the during my lunch break to get one. It seems that a little part of my brain begins to slowly build up a craving for it as the fair gets closer. Just talking about it now makes my brain scream for the fair to hurry up.” Don't worry Leslie, there will be plenty for everyone.
There are so many types of food at the fair, it is hard to decide which one to choose. Buddy came up with a simple answer to that. “I say try it all.” Buddy said, “I have found that the best way to enjoy the taste of the fair is to try a little of everything. I am not saying do it in one day. The fair is usually free during lunch time and you can always go every night. Between the turkey legs and the Bar-B-Que, how can you decide? Go for it all. Eat a burger and fries for lunch with some delicious fresh squeezed lemonade, Funnel cake for dessert and some cotton candy as a mid afternoon snack. Come back later that evening for some Bar-B-Que or a foot long corn dog. Just remember to hit the gym when the fair is over with.”
Buying tickets to ride the Ferris wheel seven or eight times can start adding up, not to mention all the other rides. The fair offers an armband that gives you the ability to enjoy the rides as many times as you want for a reasonable price. “When I was in middle school, I wanted to go on every ride as many times as my stomach would allow,” Eliot says.” The cost for that if I was to use tickets was a lot more than my parents were willing to spend. When we found out about the armbands, Mom and Dad were more than willing to buy me one. That gave them time to check out the other events that interested them, and gave me the ability to brag to my friends that I rode the Zipper 12 times in one night. It is a great savings for the parents and makes it more enjoyable for the kids. It was always hard to decide which ride to jump on when you have a limited amount of tickets. So my advice to you, buy armbands for the kids and save yourself the headache of hearing your kids cry because they didn't get to ride the rocket.” Thanks Eliot.
If you go to the fair during the day or early evening, the sun can begin turning the back of your neck red and make you feel like you are in a sauna. Jeff has a great idea to stay the heat. “Go in some of the pavilions and other indoor attractions,” Jeff says. “When we get to the fair, the sun is still out there, so we spend a lot of time looking indoors. There are a lot of fascinating things to see, especially the winners of the contests. We enjoy seeing the entrees and winners of the kids art competitions along with the arts and crafts. There is always great things to see in Harvey Hall during the fair, such as restored cars or motorcycles. There are also information booths for local businesses and raffles and prize drawings to enter. We look around at these things until the sun gets low and it cools down enough to begin hitting the rides. Go check it out, you might be the one to win a big prize.” Some of the booths even have little fun activities for the kids to enjoy while learning how to contact emergency services or handle strangers.
Some of the games at the fair are notorious for taking your money. You get so close that you know for sure you will get it the next time. So you keep dishing out money because you almost got that one ring around the neck of the bottle. “Some people think the games are rigged,” Amy says. “The truth is, it is possible to win, they just make it so hard yet look so easy. Take the basketball game for instance. The basketball they give you is just small enough to fit through the hoop. You would have to be Michael Jordan or really, really lucky to make that shot. The one game where you have to shoot out the red star with a BB gun seems easy if you are a Marine sniper, but a regular joe is in for a surprise. My advice is simple and easy to follow, if you don't accomplish it the first time, let it go and move on to the next game. The only one I am really good at is throwing the dart at a balloon and winning a poster. Hey, it's easy and I am always a winner. So save all that money for some funnel cake.”
Carol is thinking along the same line as Jessalyn. Carol says she takes Clorox wipes with her. “I can just reach in my purse and grab one,” Carol said. “If I have any doubts about touching something, I just take one and wipe away. They are particularly helpful when it comes to using the restrooms. It almost seems that I am cleaning the whole restroom, but I would rather be safe than sorry. I also use it for the kids before they get on the rides. There have been hundreds, maybe thousands of kids on these rides leaving all kinds of stuff from their hands. Some of the adults are just the same. Wiping your greasy hands on your pants does not clean them. Another place to use them is at some of the tables they have in various places for eating. With all the different foods that have been there before you, crumbs left over have drawn flies and other creepy crawlies, so wiping it down before setting down is always a great idea. The are inexpensive to buy and are definitely a safety must.”