Family time is really important. In fact, third only to our personal relationships with Jesus Christ and our relationship as a married couple, we believe it is the most important way in which we can spend our time. We believe it is particularly important to be spending quality time as a family while our children are young so that we can hope to build strong relationships with them and establish solid family identity. We know as a result of those who have gone before us that it is critical we have both of these things well-developed by the time our children enter the teen years.
But when life gets so busy, we have to be strategic with respect to keeping family time a priority. On Thursday, we threw caution to the wind, took our kids out of school, and went to the State Fair of Texas! (A great decision if I must say so myself!)
There are four ground rules you should know about our “annual” visit to the fair (we haven’t been in 3 years, so this visit was particularly exciting):
1. The food is the main attraction.
Fair food is memorable, especially at the State Fair of Texas, where they fry everything from bubble gum to beer and all things in between. They even have an award called the “Big Tex Choice Award,” which has been awarded to things such as Fried Jambalaya, Fried Cookie Dough, Fried PB&J, Fried Butter, and Deep Fried Nutella. Seriously.
But Kory and I are traditionalists. Despite all of the promptings from our Facebook Friends to try the Nutella (it was hands down the winner in our poll), we stuck to the Fletchers Corny Dog — a State Fair of Texas staple that goes back as far as I can remember. In a word…delicious. But only once a year. We don’t eat corny dogs any other time. Kory had two. I had one. The kids ate hot dogs. And we overpaid for everything.
2. It is against my personal constitution to get on any rides that can be set up and torn down in one day.
I grew up in a family of musicians and spent some meaningful time during my childhood on fair grounds around the country. As a result, I have seen a variety of fair amusement rides gone wrong. So early in my adulthood, I decided that if a ride can be set up and torn down in one day, it’s probably not very safe, and I probably shouldn’t ride it (save and except a few exceptions like the wavy slide and the fun houses). And that rule goes for all the precious cargo in my family, including my husband. Here I am giving a “thumbs down” to pretty much every ride behind me!
3. A trip to the fair isn’t legitimate unless you take a picture in front of Big Tex, and you ride the Ferris Wheel (the Ferris Wheel is a permanent landmark at the fairgrounds so riding it does not violate Rule No. 2 above).
Big Tex is the icon of the State Fair of Texas, dating back to 1952. But tragedy struck the State of Texas last year when Big Tex bit the dust and burnt to the ground. In fact, we cancelled our trip to the fair last year because it happened on the day we had planned to attend. The footage from that scene was, to the say the least, creepy, and I was thankful we weren’t there to witness it live.
As promised, though, he was back this year. But I must say, having personally witnessed it, that his boots are ridiculously big and his face remains creepy. Nonetheless, we love Big Tex and snapped a picture of two of our kids in front of him in keeping with tradition.
We also managed to time our one ride on the Ferris Wheel to occur perfectly at dusk (it cost us $35 so we only had one shot…talk about price gouging!). The view from atop the ride was stunning (overlooking the Dallas sky line and the Chinese Lantern Festival, which we highly recommend), and the cool breeze was a welcome change of pace from the hot day we had endured. When we got to the top, Kory had the kids put their hands in the huddle and say a cheer for our family. Then we snapped this “selfie” before making our descent. I am certain that was a moment our kids won’t soon forget. Sorry for the poor quality of the photo.
4. If it’s free, we do it.
The State Fair is expensive. I mean ridiculously expensive. So we bring our own drinks and snacks (except for said corny dogs and hot dogs mentioned above). We go on a day when there is a promotion (this year, we hit the $6 adult ticket price for bringing empty coke bottles). And we look for free things to do around the park.
This year, we stumbled on a green house, thanks to our oldest, who wanted to go inside. I don’t recall seeing it any other year we have been to the State Fair, but I could have missed it. It was FANTASTIC. First, the HVAC units in there were cranking out some seriously cold air. My back, which was soaking wet with sweat for the fact that I had been carting around a back-pack/diaper bag all day, was extremely thankful. Second, it was beautiful. There were plants everywhere and some pretty nice water features for the kids to enjoy. And third, there were trains. And if there are trains involved, then all is right with the world! I can’t get over this photo of big brother sharing his excitement over the trains with little bit!
The kids managed to hang on long enough for us to enjoy the laser light/fireworks show at the fair before heading home. But because it was after 9:00 by then, everyone was starving. So we stopped at a well-known dive in East Dallas, Dairyette, for burgers, fries, and root beer served in ice cold mugs. We enjoyed our food in the parking lot while the kids watched a video in the minivan. Go big or go home, right?
How do you manage to keep family time a priority amidst a busy life?