I’m shelving my high heels and replacing them with flats in preparation for strolling through fairgrounds and riding rides that exploit Newton’s centripetal force. The North Texas State Fair is calling my name for multiple reasons: a) proceeds help send many young people in the community to college and b) I have a serious affinity for roller coasters of all sizes.
Time for some rides. I approached the Ferris wheel by myself, which you wouldn’t think would be a problem, until ticket takers told me that I couldn’t ride solo. Um, what? I was totally Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed, until two UNT students offered to sit with me. I might as well have been the four-eyed kid in the corner of the elementary school cafeteria pitifully approached by the token nice girl on a dare from the popular kids.
My newfound friends and Senior Eagles, Catherine and Mark, (spit-ball shielding me from the school bully) told me about their first-time experience with the fair. “We went to the rodeo, it’s one of the biggest attractions they have here,” Mark noted, and Catherine added, “It’s been fun, the rodeo was a pretty neat experience.” I thanked them for accompanying me on the wheel o’ couples, and proceeded to the Budweiser stage, where Max Stalling would soon be performing.
Thick accents rang in my ears and the aroma of fried food and cigarettes lingered in the air. The couple sitting in front of me directed my attention to the group of 20-something boys (yes, males in their 20s are still boys) in cowboy hats, button downs, belt buckles and boots trying their hand (literally, just the one) at the mechanical bull. You can guess how that ended.
A playlist of Brooks & Dunn emits from the sound system, and the whole crowd is singing along to Cowgirls Don’t Cry. On stage, the crew is tuning Max’s guitars, and the bleachers are slowly filling up. The first chords of feedback are heard, and a guy in the crowd yells out a Yeeeehaw! Enter, Max Stalling. “So how ‘bout this temperature?” he asks, approaching the mic. The aftermath of the rainy day lingers in the night air somewhere in the realm of 88 degrees, a temperature unseen in what seems like years (or 108 days, not that I’m counting or anything) by North Texas residents.
“Come up to the front, I won’t bite” Max coos, and the crowd moves to surround his set. Mr. Stalling, who could have been Alan Jackson’s twin, was very personal with his music and made sure to incorporate North Texas nouns in to his songs, like driving down I-35. His band played a set that sounded like Jimmy Buffet gone country, and coincided perfectly with the warm breeze of a North Texas evening.
Laura Stillo is the Arts & Entertainment Writer and Creative Social Media Producer for YouPlusDallas. Follow her on Twitter at @laurastillo.