It’s been many years since I was a student at St. Thomas Aquinas, but I can remember anxiously awaiting my Charlie in the Chocolate Factory moment. For me, my Golden Ticket was a Student Pass and my Chocolate Factory was the State Fair of Texas. Yes, it happened every year, and every year I was just as excited as the previous. It never got old. It still doesn’t.
Though these days the experience is different, I like to stick to my traditions as much as possible.
The Pirate Ship
This is a must do every. Single. Year. And not only is it a do, but I must grab a seat at the very back, not the middle. The middle seats are for babies. The back seats are for the daredevils, the risk takers, the extreme-sports types—me.
The higher you go, the louder the “whooOOOooaaa” gets. The higher you go, the higher the probability of the whoas turning into yells or screams. The ride lasts for about a minute, but it’s a minute of stomach-tingling fun.
The Corny Dog
It’s corny dog, not corn dog. ‘nuff said.
The Beer at Bailey’s
This tradition didn’t start in my school-age years, obviously, but for the last several years it has been my go-to place for the cheapest beer at the fair. That’s until this year. This year, we were hipped to a cheaper spot. Cheaper than Bailey’s? No way, we thought. But yes, it did exist. And it was not only cheaper, it was way cheaper. Bailey’s better watch out. There’s a new Sheriff in town.
The Haunted House Ride
This ride is not scary at all. I wouldn’t go on it if it was. It’s an old roller coaster ride that looks like it was built in a teen’s garage—think tinfoil, spray paint and plastic mirrors as design elements. The coaster cart takes you through different “rooms” that are dark and scary. I love it because it’s air conditioned, it’s safe (I could walk out of there if it broke down) and it’s cute.
The Caramel Apple
I have to have a caramel apple with nuts before I leave the fair. It used to be a candy apple, but somewhere between my 20s and 30s, my tastes matured. The past two years, I’ve been short one coupon. It costs 12; I have 11. So the past two years I’ve had to convince an unsuspecting vendor to do me a solid. I’ve succeeded. It may be my new tradition—to come up short. Until next year, Big Tex.