My Son’s First Visit To The State Fair Of Texas: A Tale Of Happiness And Heartbreak

Every year, the last Friday of September is like a national holiday in our house for me. I look forward to it every single year. The entire month I dream about deep fried bubble gum, riding the largest ferris wheel in North America, and vendors that try to use pressure me into buying millions of Shammys, Vitamixs, and magical bracelets that promise to cure my ADD (along with cancer, athlete’s foot, acne, weak balance, and 100 other random things!)

Just what is this wonderful day that I speak of? I’m speaking of none other than the largest State fair in the United States; The State Fair Of Texas.

That’s right. The State Fair Of Texas!

I’m not sure when (or why) I became such a fan of the fair (I have to bribe my friends and family to go with me every year) but I am. In fact I even bought a season pass a few years ago! (Did you even know the State Fair had a season pass? Me either, until a few years ago.) 🙂

state fair of texas with family and coupons

I have to pay my family with state fair coupons!

My Life Was About To Be Forever Changed

This year’s fair was especially awesome since I got to bring Noah with me. In fact this time last year my wife was just a few months away from giving birth to Noah, and I remember thinking,

“Wow, how crazy is it that the next time I’m here it will be with baby Noah.”

(Side note: I also had no idea how much our life was about to be forever changed when our little boy would surprise us by being born with a 3rd copy his 21st chromosome in just a few short weeks. That’s one of the best parts about life, it’s an adventure. You never know what God has in store. I love it!)

Deep Fried “Awsomeness”

If you’ve never been to the State Fair of Texas it’s hard to explain it. It’s not your typical fair. For one, they get really into fried food. Like really into it. Like you will die if you eat it into it.

Each year they try to one-up the year before. This year’s big winner was deep fried bubble gum. The year before that; fried Fritos pie. Some of the other honorable mentions include;

  • Deep Fried Butter
  • Deep Fried Banana Split
  • Deep Fried Peanut Butter, Jelly, and Banana Sandwich
  • Deep Fried Coke
  • Deep Fried Latte
  • Deep Fried Cookie Dough

State Fair Tip #232: Only Buy The Blender.

special needs children child state fair texas

Having some fun at the State Fair of Texas

In addition to the fried food, there are vendors. Lots and lots of vendors. I’m not going to tell you about the time I was conned bought a machine that allowed me to make my own soft drinks at home, or how the Shammy guy only uses diet coke in his demonstration (I’m not kidding, watch him next time…there’s a reason, but I”m not going to spoil it for you.) I think as a former salesman myself I enjoy watching their hustle. It’s sort of fun.

Another side note: The coolest thing I’ve ever bought at the fair was a Vitamix. We’ve actually owned one for several years, and it’s awesome! You can make soup, ice-cream, or even Sonic Ice in it! (The fact that it makes Sonic Ice alone justifies the purchase.) In fact Vitamix is probably the only vendor at the State Fair whose product actually does what it claims to do. It’s seriously awesome!

Even The State Fair Of Texas Has Its Bad Days

I am however sad to report one Fair Fail this year. Yelp, that’s right. Somedays even the biggest State Fair in the United States has it’s off days,and today was one of them.

We wanted to take Noah on the big Ferris Wheel (please don’t write in telling me how un-awesome we are as parents for attempting to take our 10 month old on a Ferris wheel….that’s just how we roll.) We spent the price of a small car to buy tickets for everyone to ride. We waited in line almost an hour. We were excited. We were pumped. We were ready to ride the Ferris Wheel….and guess what happened just as we were about to get on?

The Ferris Wheel worker screamed out,


What!! I thought the billion other people in line with us were going to cause a riot. Why didn’t they tell us that ahead of time? Why didn’t they shut down the line an hour before the Fair Closed? Why did they wait until after we bought tickets (that you can’t get a refund for, nor could you use anywhere else since the fair was now closed) to tell us that the people waiting in line wouldn’t be able to ride the Ferris Wheel?


I’ll never know.

ferris wheel state fair of texas skyline dallas

Maybe we'll try to ride the ferris wheel next year......

All I do know is that I left the state fair a little sad that day. I realized that even the State Fair of Texas, in all of its deep fried glory can have an off day. I guess we’ll try again next year. (But seriously, wasn’t that messed up!?) 🙂

Bonus Video: One Upset Baby

After making today’s video, my wife reminded me of some extra footage I totally forget about! I’m so glad she did, because it’s hilarious! This video starts where the one above ends…with a crowd full of people who just paid for tickets to ride the ferris wheel and waited in a long hot line only to be told that the ferris wheel was closed, and that they had to go home. As you’ll see in this bonus video Noah don’t play when it comes to people messing with his ferris wheel!

As I said (and you are about to see) people are serious about the ferris wheel at the State Fair of Texas! 🙂

Have you ever been to the Sate Fair of Texas? Are you a fan? Yes? No? Why..? If not the State Fair of Texas, have you ever been to any Fair? Do you like them? Hate them? And the real question: have you ever used a Vitamix?

Let’s hear it.

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About Rick Smith

Hi, I'm Noah's Dad and I'm passionate about giving the world a window into our life as we raise our son who was born with Down syndrome. I also enjoy connecting with other families, so let's stay connected.


  1. Becky Carey says

    Wisconsin State Fair has THE best cream puffs in the world!!!

  2. I was waiting for a real SAD story. You’re silly!

  3. AlisonNolan says

    Wow Rick – well it is true you definitely learn something every day – sitting here in West Cork, Ireland I must say I am now truly educated in American delicacies although the deep fried coke and deep fried latte I find really hard to believe! (I wouldnt even know where to start with those ones!!) And must say I had never even heard of a “State Fair” – the closest claim to fame we have here is we are a couple of miles from the location of the worlds shortest St Patricks Day Parade (100 yards – it is literally from the front door of one pub across the road to the front door of the other pub in a little village called Dripsey – and we even make Wiki so check it out!!) – OK no Ferris Wheel or deep fried bubble gum but it still draws a crowd!! And you know what they say the best things come in little packages so if you are passing by on the 17th feel free to call in and say Hi!!

    • @AlisonNolan:disqus  Wow, that sounds awesome, I’m going to have to check that out! 

      Do you guys go?? I want to see some pictures. 🙂

    • Patricia Mulhall says

      Have to agree with you Alison – I love the sound of the State Fair too!! Imagine Deep Fried Butter!!!!! Do you think Down Syndrome Ireland would organise an exchange visit for us to go to Texas??!! My only problem would be the return visit, you would have the beauty of West Cork to show off, Laois probably wouldn’t be able to compete with the scenery – I’d have to work on some spectacular culinary invention maybe!!! Am sure work is well underway in Dripsey for the parade this year so hope it all goes well !!!

      • AlisonNolan says

        Well we did live in Roscommon for a few years and I must say we get a lot more house guests now we are in Cork!! LOL!!

        Any Laois delicacies Patricia you can impress the Americans with?? Cork has drisheen (type of blood sausage!) and crubeens (boiled pigs feet) but neither are on our menu here!! Rick – there are two more for Wikipedia for you!!

        •  @AlisonNolan:disqus Ummmm..if it’s anything like that Vitimate stuff…no thanks!!!!! 🙂

        • Patricia Mulhall says

          It would be easier for Laois to compete with Roscommon than West Cork Alison !!!!! Next thing you re going to mention the Clonakilty Black Pudding!!!! Am afraid Laois will be no competition for West Cork lol

      •  @4e7dab3e9b64e4ff079fc447c3c0d902:disqus Wow…you guys have deep fried butter there also?!?!?! We just had those at the State Fair of Texas last year! Is it the same there, as it is here? Sort of like a super buttery roll..?

        • Patricia Mulhall says

          Hi Rick, no sorry we don’t have deep fried butter here….I was just amazed at the thought of it!! Patricia

  4. Our fair has a day just for people with disabilities. We have not gotten to go, only one family member can go with them and we have 3 kids! We have been on other days, but Sarah has AAI of her neck, so she can not ride some rides. She also does not regulate her body temp and does not sweat in the summer, so we have to be careful with heat and ours is always in Aug and that week seems to always have record highs! Hopefully one day we can enjoy the fair.

    • @2eb65c31bcf94bb413c07376376537ee:disqus Wow, that’s kind of messed up that they only let 1 parent go…
      That’s super cool that they have a day just for people with disabilities. Do they do anything different on that day, than other days? 

  5. Aaron's Mama says

    My husband and I went to the Texas State Fair with our good friends who are Texans several years ago (pre-babies) and loved it. You are right, COMPLETELY unlike any other fair I have ever been to. Big Tex and the incredibly enormous ferris wheel were just two of the amazing things about the fair. The Cotton Bowl, the Red River Rivalry – I loved it all. When we were there it was deep fried Oreos and Twinkies (just thought thought makes me sick). The corn dogs were the best though! The best I’ve ever had, anywhere, hands down. Thanks for bringing back some memories, now I want to go back to Texas!

    • Yah…..!! They do have GREAT corn dogs (they are pricey, but they are GOOD!)

      And you guys should come back and visit! We can make a group trip out of it. 🙂

  6. Chris Newlon says

    I grew up in Ohio, Columbus to be exact, and lived and breathed the Ohio State Fair. We saw so many FREE concerts in the Grandstand – Ike and Tina Turner, Dolly Parton, The Beach Boys, ShaNaNa, the Osmonds, Jackson 5, Mac Davis, etc. I spent hours walking the horse barns (which was a thrill for such a city girl), watching horse shows and breathing in the wonderful (really- I loved it) smells of the horses. Do you sense a theme? My girlfriends and I knew every back alley, short cut and areas to avoid (can you say “Midway?”)  We went to the exhibit halls, quilt shows, 4H demonstrations, cattle auctions, and pie judging. It was pure bliss! It’s where I had my first “farmboy” sausage sandwich at the Bob Evan’s stand, my first Lemon Shake-Up and State fair fries. I only had a little money to spend once I got in so each food bite had to be the best. You paid for each ride, too, so we didn’t do those but once. I think it’s also where I developed my love of people watching. In college at OSU, we spent a day at the fair evaluating people in different “work, play or self-care” activities, including interviewing our subjects. I strongly urge everyone to experience any state fair at least once with someone who truly relishes them. Thanks for the memory boost!

    • @d0968b7f73c8663ca52f087309d16840:disqus yes….!! Someone else who understands the awesomeness that is the State Fair! You sound like a real state fiar pro… 🙂
      You need to get to Texas and come to the state fair with us sometime. We’ll do it big!

      By the way, we are the same way when it comes to spending money. The fair can be super pricey, so we have to choose our food, and our rides, very carefully!  

  7. Flynhi_1 says

    You can use your fair coupons the next year if you ever buy tomany. I love the fair. I take the kids every yr. usually during the week when it isn’t crowded. I don’t know why I love it so much. But it’s is THE BEST STATE FAIR!!!

  8. Jenniferjcarson says

    I lived in Texas for two years when I was first married (husband was in the army at Ft. Hood in Killeen).  Now I am sad to say that I missed out..big time, apparently.  We never attended the State Fair. 🙁

  9. Marybeth Brand says

    OH!! Rick and Abbie, I’m sure you probably know about this, but there’s a park in San Antonio (and I don’t even know how far you are from there) called Morgan’s Wonderland…a park for people (adults too, not just children) with disabilities. It’s sensory-friendly and totally accessible. It sounds awesome… is the address on the web….just FYI, if you haven’t already heard! 🙂

    PS…I’m glad it wasn’t a huge, monumental, tragic kinda heartbreak. 🙂 Whew!!

  10. StephanieWidler says

    We tried to take Warren on the ferris wheel at our fair only to find that he didn’t meet the height requirement! We were so sad! That was the main reason we went to the fair.

  11. Stephanie Widler says

    Hey! Where’s my picture?

  12. Never been to Texas, but love fairs. I can’t wait to go with the kids every year. James went to his first fair this summer, but too young to enjoy. Next August we will be there!

    • @facebook-1565348688:disqus That’s awesome! I want to see some pictures next year… 🙂 

      What is your favoriate thing to do / eat / ride / see at the fair?

  13. Debbi Erickson (Raising Riley) says

    I love fairs!  OK, since I’m from the sticks, I’ve never actually been to a state fair. However, we go to the best fair in Illinois – The Sandwich Fair!  No, it’s not about sandwiches, it’s in Sandwich, IL.  Yep, Sandwich, IL.  Anyways, it’s pretty big and you bet Riley got to check it out this year.  And yes, I feel your pain of being the lone fair lover among the adults 🙂  My sad note?  No “leather man” this year (sells leather, not made of leather:)  Deep fried latte?  Seriously?

    • @6356a3b27879c06cfcd5dd9caeff73c0:disqus What do you do with leather??!?! Do you guys make something out of it? A coat maybe?!?! 
      Also, “Sandwhich, IL”??? Wow, that’s awesome, I want to get a post card from there sometime!  I seriously thought it was a fair for sandwiches when I first read your comment. 🙂 

  14. OK so my favorites are the Deep Fried Pickles…FIRST time I ever even heard of that was the fair and the second fave is the Deep Fried OREOS!  I didn’t know you could make them anymore unhealthy, but guess what…YOU CAN!

    FYI if your fam ever poops out on you…call ME!  We love going to the fair, mostly to eat, but we love to go.  (Thanks for the tip on the season pass…had no idea!)

    • @a8165a1b27e23e7d6b4f9fc78f413a40:disqus Yes! My wife and I both like deep fried pickles!! 
      And yelp, deep fried Oreos….can you believe it? I’ve never actually had them, but if they are anything like regular Oreos, I’m all in! 🙂 

      My father in law actually taught me this thing where you put the Oreos in the freezer….it’s amazing. 

      And we should have a fair meet up this year! That would be super fun. 🙂

      Do you guys go every year? 

  15. Last time to go for me was in 2011, just a few weeks before my husband died.  We enjoyed chicken-fried bacon, deep-fried cookie dough and an amazing Celtic band that was performing while we ate.  Love the butter sculptures, too.  Nothing like the State Fair of Texas!

    • Oops, make that trip in 2010 instead of 2011.

    • @bf7c3de30086b46d0921f990087abc34:disqus It sounds like the fair has some special memories for you guys. That’s great, thanks for sharing. 🙂
      And butter sculptures….wow, I forget all about those. Thanks for reminding me! Seriously, who does butter sculptures…? Only in Texas! 🙂

  16. Life with a child with Down syndrome can be like a Ferris wheel ride, you go up and then you go down. Thankfully it is mostly up. I would not change the ride for anything. I have met so many great people, made so many great friends. Stevie, our son with Down syndrome taught us some very simple things in life, enjoy the moment and share your child with as many people as you can. Everyone can learn something from children or adults with Down syndrome. The lesson is to enjoy the simple things in life and share the love….amen

  17. Kamigrady says

    Is it bad that I totally adored that sad pouty face!
    After I had my youngest son, my oldest daughter(12) convinced me to ride the zipper (i think thats what it was) with her. I thought I was dying the whole time! Im surprised I didnt puke all over everyone standing below!

    • hahahahah what in the world is “the zipper”….!!?!!?!? It sounds awesome! 🙂
      And yes, it’s TOTALLY ok that you adored that pouty face, so did we. 🙂

      • Kamigrady says

        Its like a whole bunch of cages (imagine the ferris wheel but your caged in) and the entire ride goes round and round but each cage spins individually so your going upside down spinning like crazy! Doesnt sound bad… but IT WAS!

    • Annette32 says

      Older dd rode one like that, with some firiend, and one of the guys puked,lol. She was lucky not to get covered with it, but she wanted to go home, because of the smell, lol.

  18. Kamigrady says

    I posted the zipperi on facebook for you:)

  19. Greeneyesmonster says

    ahahaha.  Cutest face ever!  That was srsly priceless!

  20. Rio De Baba says

    AAAWWWW! That sad face in the bonus video was just aweful! My baby made a similar face today when she received shots. Just breaks my heart to see these sweet babies make that face.

    •  @google-da7d0a0ab9526903d1fa5654e8df4670:disqus I was sad…but it was also just a little bit funny. 🙂 SHHHHHhhhh don’t tell Noah I said that. 🙂

  21. I feel your pain! That ride looks so awesome! I hope you were able to ‘eat to forget’ – fair food is the best medicine for any disappointment.
    Better luck next time – counting down only seven months!
    There is nothing like sharing great traditions with our kids. 
    I have never been to a fair I did not like. The LA County Fair had a very handsome butter sculpture of a cow… protected by a plexiglas barrier and refrigerated of course. Santa Barbara County Fair, Ventura, Western Washington and King County Fairs have all been fabulous. Great rodeos; lots of good music; grange exhibits; 4-H demonstrations; craft halls; collections; woodcarving; textiles; huge pumpkins; samples of fudge and milk; scones with butter and raspberry jam. And I’m just looking the other way pretending I’m not dreaming of the alternate health food items. Three kinds of deep fried Oreos? There is only one way to tell which is your favorite. Yowzer. 
    Life is so good.

    •  @fa8191e6e2a85b05b61f12024d26d606:disqus Wow!! It sounds like you are a fair pro! Awesome!

      Do you have any past fair pictures? If so, feel free to post them right here in the comments. I’d like to see them. 🙂

  22. Kay Ridgle says

    I want a deep fried Snickers bar so bad now!! Love the State Fair!

    • AlisonNolan says

      Sorry Kay you will HAVE to enlighten me – is that like a snickers bar with a batter or something and then deep fried? Stupid question but does it not melt when in the frier or have I missed something????

    •  @e8162e508e37b1796ea2cda713149def:disqus In only 7 months we can have one! We better start working now to make room for it! 🙂

  23. Libbo263 says

    heheheh @NoahsDadDotCom:disqus this one made me chuckle! i can’t believe that! so wrong!! We have what we call “shows” like the “royal melbourne show” Its a great day out but SUPER expensive!! 
    Rick if you like your vitamix! google thermomix!  check out all the stuff you can make with it…it’s called a mini kitchen!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!! 
    Hope noah get on the ferris wheel this year! xx

  24. the Ferris Wheel was invented for the World Colombian Exposition around 1893. It was to outdo the Fair in France that produced the Eiffel Tower. There were many things invented for or at this fair. The fair was dubbed “The White City” because they were running behind and had to paint everything white so they could open up by the due date.

    •  @facebook-684368459:disqus Wow, You learn something new everyday. 🙂

      The real question is….is there a reason you know that, or did you look that up just for me? 🙂

  25. the Ferris Wheel was invented for the World Colombian Exposition around 1893. It was to outdo the Fair in France that produced the Eiffel Tower. There were many things invented for or at this fair. The fair was dubbed “The White City” because they were running behind and had to paint everything white so they could open up by the due date.

  26. Just posted below and don’t know why your blog does not add my picture or info as I signed up using my Facebook

    • Hmmm. Intresting. I am looking into it. In fact your name didn’t show up either. Just a random string of numbers. Odd.

      (Who is this by the way??) 🙂

  27. I love the fair as well!  I LOVED Noah’s face at the end of that video, so cute!!

  28. Carole Brogin says

    I surely will never go to the texas state fair because it’s a little bit too far from France where I live, but I wanted to tell you that your son is absolutely BEAUTIFUL ! Big kisses to Noah ! 

  29. Rebecca Davis says

    Hello! I met your wife and Noah through Emily Thomason. My son and I got to play with Noah and he was so sweet and beautiful! I am pregnant with #2 and we found out at 20 weeks that our little girl has Mosaic Trisomy 16, along with IUGR, a congenital diaphragmatic hernia, and tetralogy of fallot. I was Googling pictures of Mosaic Trisomy 16, and I found Noah’s picture and immediately recognized him!! I’m telling you, you have a beautiful baby! I signed up for updates! Like you said, we never know what God has in store for us, and though sometimes it seems like we’re getting a bad deal, He knows what He’s doing and something that seems really difficult can really be a blessing! We are just about to start our journey, but it’s so encouraging to see parents who are gracefully enjoying their special needs children!

  30. Karenina says

    You should come to Malaysia where we have a lot of deep fried stuff too. Deep fried ice crem, deep fried durian (that thorny stinky fruit), deep fried tofu, deep fried beancurd, deep fried jackfruit to name a few. 😉

  31. Kristi Ballard says

    So funny.  We go to the Florida Strawberry Festival every year.  We absolutely love the food.  Daniel was too young too enjoy it last year but can’t wait to see his reaction this year.  We go next weekend!  I can’t get my husband or friends to get on the rides with me but I am compensated by the boiled peanuts, deep friend mushrooms (or green beans), roasted corn, chain saw contests, and high wire acts.  My favorite time of year!!!

  32. That cute frown makes me want to build a ferris wheel just for Noah 🙁  Love your videos <3

  33. Annette32 says

    Never been to a State fair, just the county ones. My girls love to go on wrist band night. You purchase a wrist band, and ride unlimited rides all night. Love trying the fried foods! Sampled the fried snickers, and the fried Twinkie. We also have a Special Needs day, where the more severe students spend a day at the fair looking at the 4 H projects, the animals, and Wild Bill, who does some rope tricks. Last year, the 4 H students let the kids get up close and personal with the animals. Unfortunately, no one gets to ride anything, that part isn’t open in the day time.

  34. Jennifer Legate says

    Wow, he has an effective bottom lip technique.  Have he and Jack been comparing notes?  He can still break me with that lip at 3 and a half years!  Just accept it.  When they pull out the lip…you give them anything they want.  Give the boy his ferris wheel ride, would you!

  35. HOORAY for the State Fair of Texas!! I was born in Dallas, and though we moved when I I was little, my grandparents still lived there, and the State Fair was an annual tradition. I picked the tradition up again when I got married, and especially when we moved to Ft. Worth. We would take a different couple with us every year. My list of things to do: Fletchers Hot Dog, Ferris wheel, Birds of the World (recently added to the list), fresh cotton candy, caramel apple, car show, something fried (fried cookie dough my favorite so far…or fried strawberries…mmmm), and of course I have to watch the Vitamix schpiel and try out all the mattresses.

    We haven’t been since we’ve moved away from Texas, but maybe this fall. I COMPLETELY understand your disappointment about the ferris wheel! We always tried to go at sunset, and it was usually our last hoorah before heading home. The Midway after dark always seems a little creepy to me, so we start early and head home after the ferris wheel.

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