Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024

Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024
Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Fair at Night, Part 3 - Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016

Continued from Part 2...

With the setting sun, all the incredible neon and twinkling lights came on. Oh how I wished my camera battery hadn't died! 

We somehow made our way over to a quieter part of the fair, a beautiful lake with a floating bridge and swan pedal boats. The trees around the lake were outlined in colored lights. We loved it. 

Swan Pedal Boats at the Texas State Fair
(Photo source: WikimediaCommons)
As we walked back across the floating bridge to the Midway, we saw the Dallas Police Department Mounted Unit lined up side by side by the lake and motorcycle police in the street. I told Bob this was probably the starting point for the Starlight Parade. We stayed right where we were and sure enough, about five minutes later, the mounted police came out. They allowed people to walk up to their horses for a bit before the actual parade started.

Police on motorcycles led the parade, followed by the mounted unit. Then the Bud Light Clydesdales came out pulling the beer wagon with a Dalmatian sitting in the front seat. Those horses are huge and obviously very well cared for. Their manes were braided and tails were pulled up short. They positively gleamed as they went by. 

There were a number of floats depicting events at the fair, and a big semi with a Shriners band playing in the back of it. The tail end of the parade was made up of more motorcycle officers. We enjoyed watching all of it go by. 

It was time for a snack, so we grabbed a chocolate nut dip ice cream bar on the way to the Esplanade to see the 8 pm Illumination Sensation show. All the benches and walls were full of sitting people, so we sat on a very low-to-the-ground curb along the sidewalk. A lot of people sat in the grass behind us. It was still 1/2 hour to showtime!

The Fair Guide describes the Illumination Sensation as follows: 
"Set along a scenic reflecting pool, Mattress Firm Illumination Sensation wows the crowd with dancing waters, fireworks and high-energy pop music blended with engaging performances by dancers and acrobats."
They forgot to mention the laser lights. The show was wonderful. If you ever go be sure to stay for the nighttime events. By the time the show was over, I had firework debris stuck on the suntan lotion on my legs: all part of the experience, to be sure.

We were pretty hungry for dinner by the time the show was over. We finally got a turkey leg.

There were big rocking chairs to sit in. Bob found a cell phone in his and there was a wallet under mine. We asked the people next to us if they knew who was sitting there. They did and chased them down to return their phone and wallet. 

As we were eating, I choked on a 2" turkey leg tendon (?). Bob and I were sharing the turkey leg. I was eating fast and didn't chew my food thoroughly. Next thing I knew there was a hard, sharp tendon going down my throat and I couldn't breathe. Luckily I have a good regurgitation reflex and I was able to get it back up, but it scraped my esophagus so there was lingering discomfort. Not to mention, I was coughing hard, my nose was running, and my eyes were watering profusely; all in reaction to the foreign piece of food. That was quite scary! 

After I calmed down, we went in search of dessert. Bob knew what he wanted: a deep-fried brownie. We found the booth that he had seen earlier and we ordered. The deep-fried brownies came as three round croquettes, with a batter around the brownies. We shared those too. They were quite good and made me forget about my throat.

After that, we walked around the Midway marveling at how pretty the Texas Star Ferris wheel looked with all its lights ablaze. Fairs and amusement parks are enchanting at night!

It had been a long but enjoyable day and we headed back to our motel. Thanks, Bob, for taking me to the fair! 

Texas State Fair: A Fair Amount of Quilts and Cars, Part 2 - Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016

Continued from previous blog (Part 1)...

I just couldn't wait to get into the Creative Arts Building. Ever since my parents took us to our first fair, I was fascinated by all the things people won prizes for: quilts, knitting, embroidery, cake decorating, painting, drawing, crocheting, canning, photography, the list goes on and on. 

When we stepped through the door, we entered a world of color and creativity. At the top of everything were the quilts, hung way up high in a league of their own. Some quilts were geometric, others were swirls of colors, or butterflies or themed (Harry Potter was one) and I was snapping photos of them all. Below are my favorite quilts...

The quilt pictured below looks like a compilation of all the other quilts this person has made. The work that went into it is amazing!

First Premium
Swirl pattern with lots of little triangles -
Third Premium
Harry Potter-themed quilt - First Premium in Youth
Butterflies - Second Premium
I was so busy looking at quilts that I walked past the butter sculpture inside the front door. It was in its very own cooler.

Butter sculpture by Ken Robison
Stats on the butter sculpture: It takes 1,000 pounds of butter to make this; and it takes 21,200 gallons of milk to make 1,000 pounds of butter! Wow. Who thinks up stuff like this?

Intricate embroidery won First Premium
Close-up of embroidery
Stained glass fairy
Awesome fused glass ocelot won
First Premium
A beautiful cross-stitched piece!
(Only received Honorable Mention)
We spent a lot of time looking at photography entries. I realized I should be entering some of my photos in these contests! So much fun to see other people's perspectives and what they think is photo-worthy.

On the way out of the Creative Arts Hall, we snagged a cup of Dr. Pepper Chocolate Chip ice cream to share. YUMMY!

Across the hall from Creative Arts was a shopping embarcadero. We roamed the aisles to see what looked interesting. We found a couple of things to buy.

We bought a blue round light
like the ones on top
We also bought a fancy hummingbird feeder. This feeder has lots of openings on the top so hummingbirds can move naturally from "flower to flower." 

The set-up below looked like a fun Christmas gift for a child. The gear pieces have batteries in them, so you can hook a bunch together and make lots of moving parts.
"Funny Gears" sets
Once we were sufficiently cooled off, we headed out into the 95 degree heat. We saw Lone Star Boulevard, but were distracted from going that way by a great rock 'n' roll band playing on the Chevy Stage. We stopped to listen for about 1/2 hour, but there was no shade. A food tent next door provided a brief respite from the sun while we listened.

Lone  Star Boulevard - State Fair 2106
Chevrolet Main Stage
We once again bypassed Lone Star Boulevard to make our way to the Hall of State. Inside, as a special fair exhibition, is "The Taylor Swift Experience." This exhibit came directly to the Texas State Fair from the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles. We saw her gorgeous costumes, instruments, hand-written lyrics, photos and a movie of Taylor Swift's life to date. The auditorium with the movie was very well air conditioned so we chilled out for about 15 minutes there.
Bob (on right) going up stairs to Hall of State
The 11-foot-tall Tejas Indian statue by Allie Tennant (below) above the Hall of State doors is bronze covered in gold leaf. The blue tiles represent the state flower, the bluebonnet.

Lunchtime was upon us and we decided to have corn dogs (we each got our own). So far the corn dog line was the longest line in the park. Apparently Fletcher's Hot Dogs are very popular here. Our order was for two "Bird Dogs" (turkey corn dogs). They were cooked to perfection, a beautiful golden-brown crust encasing the cornbread-like covering around the turkey hot dogs. We waited about 20 minutes in the hot sun to get them. Right behind us was Big Tex, the biggest Texan in Texas. He says "Howdy" and other stuff and moves his arms and hands around.

Big Tex is 55' tall with a 95-gallon hat and classic Dickies, size 434 x 240 inches. Big Tex began his existence in 1949 in Kerens, Texas, as the World's Largest Santa Claus built to lure holiday shoppers. He was put up for sale two years later and was snatched up by R. L. Thornton, president of the State Fair of Texas, for $750.

Thornton hired Dallas artist Jack Bridges to shave Santa's beard and transform him into the face of the Fair. In 1952, Big Tex debuted at the Texas State Fair and Texans fell in love with the big guy. When going to the fair, it's a tradition to have your photo taken with Big Tex.

Big Tex as seen from the Fletcher's
Corn Dog line
After securing our corn dogs and loading them up with condiments, we sought shade and coolness under a spray-misting machine at the Chevy Dealers Truck Zone.
Our first photo with Big Tex
After corn dogs and lemonade (how much more state fair can you get than that?), we strolled through all the outdoor truck exhibits, checking out Chevys, Fords, Dodges, and whatever else was out there. Once again, the heat got to us so we headed into the air-conditioned auto exhibit building. 

Below is a see-through robot that moves from side to side. Maybe this will be the future Big Tex. But I bet they won't get him for $750!!!

A future Big Tex perhaps?
Outside once again, we sat in the shade to watch the Zuzu African Acrobats. They were so-so and we didn't sit long. Our next stop outside was Lone Star Boulevard to watch Xpogo, daredevil pogo stick acrobats. They were very good. At the end, they were jumping over a 7' bar and doing flips over the bar on their super-duty pogo sticks. They had to pump up their pogo sticks with air!
Xpogo performer
Xpogo - Clearing the 6' bar

7' -Gives new meaning
to raising the bar!
My camera was seriously low on battery power because I forgot to charge it. I wanted another photo of the Art Deco architecture before it ran out.

Centennial Hall was originally the Exposition Building which dated back to 1905. More square footage was developed/added in 1935 and 1936 for the Texas Centennial Exposition. There are three female statues in porticoes along the building. The statues represent Spain, the Confederacy and the Republic of Texas
Centennial Hall and one of the three statues
The Centennial Building and Automobile Building flank the long sides of the Esplanade. Once again we walked through a building for the air conditioning, once again it was a building filled with cars and shopping.

The Esplanade - where a lot of entertainment took
place throughout the day and evening
We were in need of water and we found bottles for $1 being sold by the Daughters of the American Revolution in the D.A.R. House, another historic structure at the fair. 

At the Marine Corps Square in front of the D.A.R. House, we saw these Flamenco dancers so we sat and watched for a few minutes. 

Flamenco dancers
Festive flamenco
Colorful skirts a-swirl

We then headed over to the Women's Museum Building thinking we'd check out "Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel - The Exhibition" appearing in America for the first time ever. The additional admission fee of $8.00 deterred us, so we didn't go in. 

At 3:30 p.m. we wanted to see Le Freak perform at the Chevrolet stage. They are a tribute band and play 90s disco songs like "Le Freak" by Chic, "YMCA" by The Village People, "Dancing Queen" by Donna Summers, "Get Down Tonight" by K.C. and the Sunshine Band, "Brick House" by the Commodores, Bee Gees, Michael Jackson, Rod Stewart, Sister Sledge and more. We watched them for over an hour. They were quite entertaining.

We wandered around the fairgrounds some more as dusk set in and found a mobile redwood log home. The inside of the log was hollowed out to make the home inside. The log that this home was made from is 1,000 years old and this is only a small portion of the whole tree. Can you imagine what it would cost in gas to tow this mobile home around?

Bob got a photo of me in front of the Lone Star Boulevard sign. You can see how crowded the fair is.

As evening descended, we breathed a sign of relief as the temperature became more bearable and the sun dropped out of sight.

To be continued in Part 3...

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Happy State of A Fair, Part 1 - Sun., Oct. 16, 2016

Saturday night about 6:30 p.m., after a ten-hour workday for me, Bob and I headed to Dallas, Texas (4-1/2 hours north) in our car. Saturday morning, Bob had done his 18-mile marathon training run, and he went to work for a while too.

Needless to say, we were both rather tired and cranky as we pulled out of San Antonio Saturday evening. Dinner was first on our agenda. Both of us thought Costco's fast food sounded good, except we forgot Costco closes early on Saturday night. Plan B was to find other fast food close to the freeway. We ended up at Kentucky Fried Chicken. 

After dinner we drove and drove, arriving at our motel in Dallas at about 11:15 p.m. We made a quick trip to Walmart. 

Were we in the Twilight Zone? Never had an experience THAT bad at Walmart before. The checkers were like zombies, no greeting, no smile, nothing. They just stared at us. It wasn't just our checker, every checker we walked by on the way out was the same way with their customers. Couldn't get out of there fast enough.

In the morning, we didn't get breakfast on our way to the Texas State Fair so we decided to eat at the fair. Parking was $15 and adult admissions were $14 each. That did not include rides. The lines to get into the parking lots were long and took a while to make it through the gate

Once inside, the first thing that caught our eye was the Chevy Ride & Drive. This is a test drive track where you can try out 2017 Chevy trucks and cars. In another section of the fairgrounds, Nissan had a test drive area as well. 

Bob and I were amazed by how many auto and truck dealers had exhibits both inside exhibit halls and outside at truck zones. Our conclusion: Texans love their rides. I'd say one-third of the fair was devoted to vehicle exhibits/sales.

For breakfast we didn't immediately see anything "breakfasty." I thought sharing a turkey leg sounded good. Bob wasn't enthused. I was going to get one but they weren't ready at 10:30 am. We took that as a sign we should eat something else. (We decided today would be a food cheat day, meaning we could eat whatever we wanted, but we would share each item.)

In our fair guidebook, lists of award-winning fair food took up two pages. We chose the 2016 Best Taste 2nd place winner: Caribbean Pineapple Korn-A-Copia. This concoction is a hollowed-out half pineapple with grilled shrimp inside one end, grilled chicken inside the other end, and rice in the middle. That is topped with corn-cilantro salsa and a few pineapple chunks on the side. I ate the shrimp since Bob is allergic to it, and he had the chicken. We shared the rice and pineapple. Mmmmm! Great breakfast. 

Caribbean Pineapple Korn-A-Copia
After breakfast, we people-watched on the Midway and I photographed a few of the thrill rides. (No, we didn't go on any.)
Techno Power
Looking down the Midway
Exterior decor at the Scary Park ride
On the Rock It ride below, there is a long arm that swings up and down between the inverted V support. The cars at the end of the arm spin. When the arm gets all the way to the top of its arc, the people in the cars hang upside down for a few seconds before it finishes it swing. That thing was tall...probably two-three stories tall.

Rock It ride with Cotton Bowl in the background
New York, New York walk-through fun house
Windsurf ride
From the Midway, we headed over to see animals in the farmyard. If you've never seen a Texan longhorn up close, here's a few photos to help you visualize how huge they are.   

Be sure to give them lots of room.
Love the sign: "Please respect my space."
Fun facts about longhorns
 Below is a Frizzle rooster. He's gorgeous.

We watched kids pedal tractor pulls, tried to see horses but their barn was empty, looked at goats and cows, went to the Lone Star Stampede Show, then headed over to the Creative Arts Building (my favorite!). 
Kids pedal tractor pull
Kudos to the little girl doing the tractor pull
Another star of the fair (besides the Texas star), is the architecture. Per the Fair Guide, "many of the buildings and artwork...were created for the Texas Centennial Exposition...held from June 6 to November 29, 1936. During the Depression-era exhibition, more than 6.3 million people visited the park, including President Franklin Delano Roosevelt."

I am especially fond of Art Deco and these fairgrounds are loaded with art from that era. You'll see more examples in one of my next blogs.
The Texas Woofus
(see explanation below)

The Woofus from the front
Steer judging
Texas golf cart
The temperature was heating up and we were sweating. The Lone Star Stampede was about to begin, so we took seats in the arena and waited. No air conditioning in the arena, though we were inside (in shade).
Lasso demonstration
The cowboy below was riding standing up with one foot on each horse. The two horses he was standing on were different heights. He was really good!

Bareback riding while standing up
He had six horses;the two he's standing on
are different heights.
Bringing in the longhorns
Another lasso artist
Hopi hoop dancer
Hopi hoop dancer
Because this blog is already long, I'm going to turn this into two or three blogs. It has taken me a while to write this as I'm currently working five, ten-hour days which started last Wednesday and ends tomorrow. I only had one day off in between returning home from the fair and starting my long work week. 

To be continued in the Creative Arts Building...