Two veterans of the State Fair of Texas journeyed forth to its cousin in South Carolina.
I imagine most fairs have many of the same things: animals, agriculture, and fried foods. Texas being Texas, it’s all on a ginormous scale. Since one could comfortably fit about five South Carolinas inside Texas, the fair was naturally a bit smaller, but no less worth attending.
We waited our turn through security while sharing amused glances with the young family ahead of us over the very drunk man ahead of them who just didn’t understand why one had to show ID to get into the fair. Presenting our IDs to the charming man working security, he waved Paul’s away, indicating the abundant “wisdom” in his beard, but questioned my age; I fell instantly in love with him.
Once checked and paid, it’s inside the gate where we are immediately accosted by a photographer and the redolent scent of frying food.
Not sure what sort of fried stuff we wanted to eat, we went first to see the animals, sort of checking out the goods ahead of time. Alas, the cattle were undergoing a “change over,” and not available for viewing. I wondered what that meant? Are there multiple crews of cattle and sheep for the viewing public? Or, like airline pilots, are they required to rest after so many hours? A mystery I will have to solve next year, perhaps.
We did find bunnies, goats, and two llamas, one so sure of his good looks he stood and posed at each corner of his pen (though I was wary of his upraised tail).
Where Texas proudly offers a giant butter sculpture every year, South Carolina has sand sculptures. I was particularly pleased to see, having attended my very first Okra Strut a few weeks ago, that the noble okra was front and center. Having only mastered packing wet sand into pails to create messy turrets, I couldn’t help being impressed.
Award-winning apples, sweet potatoes and corn were displayed on (relatively) small silos here in the Agricultural building.
There was amazing and mystifying art on display, both professional and amateur. I took one bad picture of a lovely little seaside painting because it was signed, Janet Brown, reminding me of one of our English ladies of the same name at my old church. She had spent some years living in Australia and amused me with tales of spending Christmas day on the beach. Seeing the painting made me wonder (hope) if she maybe hadn’t died at all, but was a spy living a secret life, hiding in plain sight as an artist in South Carolina.
But what to do about dinner?
There was much to choose from: corn dogs, turkey legs, and gyros to name only a few. This was the first time I ever noticed “chicken gyros.” Is that even legal? Why, why, why would anyone eat a chicken gyro (says she who hasn’t tried one)?
After some thoughtful chewing and gazing at all the color, noise, and people, my beloved made an astute observation which I will share here, hoping he doesn’t get too upset at me blowing his cynical cover. Pointing out the wide diversity of people, from the Muslim women in full burkas leaving as we arrived, to the short-skirted sorority girls at the next table, all the differently colored and eye-folded, religiously-affiliated or not, liberal, conservative, independent, just people happily eating, riding rides, viewing animals and art, everyone was getting along. Everyone was having a nice evening out in this microcosm of America. “It gives me faith in humanity.” Yes, me too.
This is what captured my attention: Elephant Ears. What on God’s green earth were these? I don’t recall Texas ever having Elephant Ears, though they’ll batter and deep-fry anything in Texas. I keep waiting for someone to just go whole hog (as it were) and offer entire pigs or cows, battered and deep-fried at the Texas State Fair (and remember if they do, you heard it here first). We found Elephant Ears mercifully not actual ears but small-pizza-sized rounds of dough, fried and coated with your choice of sin: apple goo, strawberry goo, or cinnamon and butter. There was something about cheesecake on the menu, but I just couldn’t even fathom that. Since we were taking it home, we opted for the cinnamon and butter. The women running the Elephant Ears stand were definitely the friendliest, happiest folks working the Fair. I guess a perpetual sugar-rush will do that for folks, but I appreciated them.
All our babies are grown and in other states, so we had no need to hemorrhage twenties on the Midway or ride any terrifying rides, so we just enjoyed the evening and the street musicians at the parking lot across the street.
For veterans of the Texas State Fair, let me just say this was the easiest fair to get in and out of EVER. We were home in twenty minutes, ready to tuck into our Elephant Ear, which even Ivan the (recently) Terrible enjoyed.