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A night at the fair

Autumn brings out so much of the best in this world. It's almost like we need to squeeze in every enjoyable moment before the days grow short and dark.

October - glorious October - brings pleasant days and bright colored leaves. Festive decorations. College football. And fairs.

I grew up in South Carolina, first going to the little Orangeburg County Fair - which didn't seem small at all to a boy from a town of 800 souls. The candied apples, cotton candy, corn dogs and French fries cast a magical spell over the senses. The quilting, baking and livestock competitions demonstrated skills that had been passed down from generation to generation.

Carnies would challenge you to feats of strength. You desperately tried to win your girl a giant stuffed animal. Little has changed on that front. But in those long ago days, there were still "freak shows," and yes, even "hootchie cootchie girls" tucked away in the darkest corners.

Lights flashed, music blared and people screamed on the thrill rides. Politicians handed out buttons and bumper stickers. You walked and laughed and ate until you could neither walk another step or eat another bite. And the old timers swore that these fairs were nowhere near as good as when they were young bucks owning the midway.

Tonight, I returned to the fair. Not just any fair, but the State Fair of Texas. After only a month of living in Dallas, I felt the call of fall. The State Fair of Texas is big. I mean REALLY big. But even with its massive scale, there lives the same spirit that entices youngsters of all ages to enjoy the delights of autumn.

Here's a few pictures. I hope you enjoy them. Click on any one for a bigger view and slide show.

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