By Judy Brotton
September may be hot in Oklahoma, but it still heralds the start of fall … and fall is ushered in by the Oklahoma State Fair. So let’s DREAM BIG! and find out what’s happening this year.
Before the fair even starts, Distinctly Oklahoma magazine’s foodies have been invited, for the third year, to help judge the food vendor competition. It’s a tough job, so this year we’ve called in some big guns to aid us in our quest to find the Best Tasting Sweet, Best Tasting Savory, Most Unique Sweet and Most Unique Savory foods put out by vendors. Michael Dean, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the Oklahoma History Center, has volunteered his taste buds for the task. The results will appear inDistinctly Oklahoma magazine next month, but the winners will be posted at the fair on opening night.
We’ll get a sneak peak at some new and exciting foods available at this year’s fair – Bacon Wrapped Caramel Apples; Cheesy Bacon Bombs (pepper jack cheese and bacon deep-fried, of course!); Cinna Burgers (a burger and all the fixins loaded within a cinnamon roll); Deep-Fried Artichokes served with a Butter Wine Sauce (definitely one I’m looking forward to!); Deep-Fried Butter on a Stick (how is this even possible?); Deep-Fried Watermelon served with a Marshmallow Cream Dipping Sauce; PB&J Burgers (a favorite of Elvis impersonators) and Pancake Burgers (yep, you guessed it!).
Many of your favorite food vendors from years past will be returning – Bacon Cinnamon Rolls, Chocolate Dipped Corndogs, Pot Roast Sliders, Taco-in-a-Bag, and deep-fried everything-on-a-stick.
This year’s Disney on Ice presents “Rockin’ Ever After,” and includes characters from Disney-Pixar’s “Brave,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Tangled” and “Beauty and the Beast” rocking out to the hottest tunes in the kingdom. The show runs from September 12-17.
PRCA Xtreme Bulls Tour and concerts include 90 minutes of Xtreme bull-riding, followed by performances by the Eli Young Band (September 20) and Clay Walker (September 21).
Free concerts on the Chickasaw Entertainment Stage include country star Randy Houser; Canadian ‘80s rockers Loverboy; 13-year-old country singer/songwriter Kelsey K, who opens for popular country singer Jerrod Niemann; popular Duranguense singer Diana Reyes; Atlanta rockers Sevendust; Christian pop-rock band Building 429; ‘70s underground R&B and street funk pioneers The Ohio Players; and ‘70s rock group America.
Not to be forgotten is the 2013 Oklahoma State Fair Elvis Extravaganza competition, a regional Elvis impersonator contest for a spot in the National Finals scheduled for February 2014 at the Tampa, Florida State Fair. There’ll be a hunka hunka “Burning Love” happening on September 18 and 19.
New this year in the Dr Pepper Family Fun Zone: Swampmaster Gator Show – educational entertainment from Jeff Quattrocchi; Master Speed Painter Richard Hight; ACM@UCO presents Party at the Pavilion, showcasing talented students from UCO’s Academy of Contemporary Music; and animal antics of Farmyard Follies.
Once you’ve finished riding all the carnival rides, head back to the Dr Pepper Family Fun Zone for Oklahoma State Fair’s first-ever mobile zip line, allowing those brave enough to soar 200 feet above the heads of earthbound fair-goers. The more earthbound can climb the Rock Wall (in a safety harness, of course), or hang on for dear life on the Mechanical Bull.
A new interactive site for families is the LEGO Event Tour, featuring games, challenges, LEGO bricks for building fun, and LEGO prizes for all.
Returning fun includes Zoppe’ Italian Family Circus, Comedy Hypnotist Dale K, Firefighter Training Show, Okie Karaoke Contest and the Capital City Theatre interactive shows. Pig Races, Super Stock Car Racers, Rockin’ Rollin’ Water Wheels, Amazon Adventure and the super Turbo Jump trampolines round out the funfest.
Educational adventure abounds at the City of AGtropolis, including the Butterfly Boarding House, OSU’s Insect Adventure, Honey Bee Haven, the Alpaca Experience, and demonstrations on Handspinning and making Goat’s Milk Soap.
Frontier fans will enjoy the Centennial Frontier Experience of Blacksmiths at the Forge, Wild West Stunt Riders, Trail of Tears Experience and, new this year, Land Run Mania. Kids can try Mutton Bustin’, or mosey on over to the OK Kids’ Corral for some stick horse ridin’ and sack racin’. If that’s not enough, don’t miss the Centennial Frontier Cloggers, Trick Ropers Extraordinaire, Plains Indian Dancers and ShenaniGuns! For the first time,Guthrie native Cowboy Jim Garling will take the stage for some singin’ and pickin’; then join Loop Rawlins for his one-man western roping and comedy show –Ropes, Whips & Guns, Oh My!
Oklahoma wineries offer a variety of wines and beers at the Wine & Beer Garden, a popular place for the over 21 crowd after a long, hot day at the Oklahoma State Fair. Other popular exhibits include the Auto Show, featuring the newest and best cars on the market; Clydesdale Alley, home to rare one-ton black and white horses from Express Clydesdales; and downsizing takes on a whole new meaning in Allen’s Original Redwood Log House, a hand-carved giant California redwood tree, fully furnished with three rooms.
Folks 55 and older get free admission on Senior Citizens’ Day, September 18. Carnegie Hall will host special activities including health screenings, Senior Cabaret, Senior Swing Dance and the selection of the 2013 King & Queen of Hearts.
Along with the Elvis Extravaganza, contests include the 62nd Annual Oklahoma State Fair Band Day Parade Competition on September 16, featuring statewide high school, mid-high and junior high school bands with their drum lines, drum majors and color guard teams.September 21 brings the ASC Cheerleading, Dance & Pom Pon Competition; ongoing Creative Arts, Equine and Livestock Competitions; 6th Annual Arm Wrestling Classic on September 22 – The Great Oklahoma Rivalry, OU vs. OSU (winners will represent the Oklahoma State Fair in the national finals competition); and the very tasty Wine Competition, with winning wines displayed in the Creative Arts Building.
Budding singers can air their pipes in the inaugural “Voice of the Fair” Vocal Competition on September 20. Categories include junior division (age 13-17) and senior division (18 and over), and the finals are scheduled for September 21. Those with a poetic bent can compete in the first “Voice of the Fair” Poetry Competition, open to non-professional poets/writers 16 and older. Winners will include audience favorites and best singer in each age group, most inspirational poem and most entertaining poem.
This year’s inaugural Scholarship Fund Art Auction establishes a college scholarship fund that will allow young visual arts students from Oklahoma to “Dream Big.” An optional twilight tram tour on the evening of September 11, before the fair opens, will be followed by a reception at the Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center, along with the inaugural auction of artwork selected from entries in the 2013 Oklahoma Student Art Exhibition. Hors d’oeuvres and Oklahoma wines will be on hand, and guests can watch as Richard Hight creates his piece for the auction. Winning works and the over 700 student entries will be on display during the Oklahoma State Fair.
The Miss America Pageant needs a representative from Oklahoma, so the 2013 Miss Oklahoma State Fair (women 17-24) will be crowned on September 7, along with the Outstanding Teen (young women 12-17) to represent Oklahoma at the state and national level. Lastly, Oklahoma State Fair Kids of the Year Pageant will be held September 14, open to both boys and girls up to age 17.
For more information about the 2013 Oklahoma State Fair, visit their new website at www.okstatefair.com. Additions include the Fair Food Finder, because you don’t want to miss a single bite of fair vendor food! A simplified version of the website is available for download to your smartphone, or connect with them on Twitter and Facebook for updates.