The State Fair of Texas is the nation’s largest state fair, with attendance approaching three million during the Fair’s 24 days each September and October. The Fair’s 277 acres were packed during my four-hour visit today; I enjoyed everything and had some observations on the consumption front. Good news included:
* fewer morbidly obese people walking the grounds;
* more people attending the agricultural exhibits, and a greater variety of Texas-grown food for people committed to local produce;
* the 300,000 square feet dedicated to showing and advertising new motor vehicles had a 2013 Toyota PriusC – the new four-door sedan is slightly roomier and gets better gas mileage (50 mpg) than my 2001 Prius and sells for the same $23,000 I paid in January 2001; and
* Big Tex, the 52-foot-tall, talking-cowboy Fair greeter who burned last week, will be restored and back in action for the 2013 Fair.
Bad news included:
*the Fair’s pattern of encouraging poor eating habits continued; the finalists for 2012′s best new dish are Fried S’mores, Fried Lemonade, and Fried Taste of Autumn Pumpkin Pie;
* Fair goers lavished more favorable attention on the Chrysler SRT8, a particularly wasteful four-door sedan, than on the PriusC – the SRT8 generates 470 horsepower, more than three times as much as the Prius, and Chrysler lamely brags that its “fuel saver technology shuts down 4-cylinders” so it “offers up to 23 mpg when cruising” to justify the V-8′s $48,000 price tag;
* Big Tex burned down just after his 60th birthday.
This Fair’s special feature was thousands of sculptures by 45 of the “world’s foremost lantern-makers” who left China and worked for six weeks building 22 groups of lanterns at the Fair grounds. One spectacular lantern was a one-third-scale model of Beijing’s Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests which had 900 lights. The Chinese also diplomatically honored their Texas hosts by constructing one large lantern group as a life-size, realistic herd of Texas Longhorn cattle. Another was a 300-foot undulating dragon made of 15,000 porcelain plates, cups and other tableware tied together and lighted. In Chinese culture, the dragon is powerful, decisive, intelligent and a good omen. The exhibit powerfully showcased Chinese culture and the energy, imagination, and skill of Chinese artists and craftsmen, whose excellence cast doubt on politicians’ claims that currency manipulation and unfair trade practices are the reasons so many of our clothes have “Made in China” labels. Perhaps there is a “Chinese exceptionalism” similar to the “American exceptionalism” which Obama and Romney seem obliged to pander to.
Image by Joyous! at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], from Wikimedia Commons