Patrick’s 5 Most Memorable State Fair Moments
11:09 AM EDT on September 29, 2020
Thanks to the Oklahoma State Fair being canceled due to the pandemic, News 9 in OKC and News on 6 in Tulsa threw together a hokey, 30-minute primetime special called State Fair Stories.
The program has already aired, but you can watch video clips here. It's pretty standard stuff. People talk about the food, the rides, and all the extinct things that gave the Fairgrounds character before it became the stale, corporate, homogenized horse show complex is today.
The whole thing got me thinking about some of my most memorable experiences at the State Fair. I thought I'd share five of them with you...
1. The night I got to see a murder on the Midway
Okay, I didn't technically see the murder, but I was there for it!
Back in 2002, when I was your typical testosterone-fueled 24-year-old broseph, some buddies and I went to the Fair on a Saturday night to get drunk and hit on some rural girls from Dibble or Gotebo or wherever it is the girls who go the State Fair are from.
Around 9pm or so, just as the fair was really hopping, we were standing to the side of the famed O'Brien's booth – a now-defunct karaoke bar / meat-market in the heart of the Midway. The place was shoulder-to-shoulder packed, and as we knocked back some watered-down Bud Lights and tried to figure out a gameplan, we heard the words you usually hear at the State Fair on a Saturday night.
Just like in high school, the "Fight!" call got everyone's attention, and swarms of people rushed towards where it was apparently happening. Then, just a few seconds later, you heard shrieks and screams and everyone began to scatter.
During all this, my friends and I just stood where we were. We didn't run to see the fight like everyone else because we were too old and cool for that, but we also didn't run away like everyone else because we also were too old and cool for that. The cops were already there in full force – this was the Oklahoma State Fair midway– so it's not like we were worried or anything.
A few seconds later, as the dust cleared, we saw a Latino dude laying on his back about 20 feet from us, convulsing on the ground, as blood spewed out from his throat into an expanding pool around his body. A few feet away from him was a guy wearing a white tank top with cut marks on his face, sitting on the ground on handcuffs, yelling stuff in Spanish.
10 seconds or so later, a pair of paramedics trotted right by us, holding supplies and a stretcher. They saw what we saw and for a brief moment stopped, look at each with jaws wide open, like the world's smallest horse had just ate its own head, and then darted to the guy.
At that point, cops were already hurriedly moving everyone away from the O'Brien's tent. My buddies and I talked for a minute or two, and decided it was best to leave the Fair and go somewhere else. As we were walking away, one friend and I started arguing about the death penalty, and then, ironically enough, got into our own fight! Fortunately, no blood was spilled.
Anyway, the guy who got his throat slashed was named Sergio Lozano. It was apparently gang-related, and he died a week later. The suspects were never caught.
2. The time my grandfather tried to dunk Bobo The Clown...
Back when I was 10 or so, I went to the fair with my grandparents. As we were strolling through the Midway, we passed by the Bobo The Clown Dunk Tank. It, like most cool things at the fair, is now history.
As a life-long fan of insult humor, I asked if we could stop and watch. After a minute or so, the clown took aim at my grandpa, and especially his overalls, ribbing him with some old-man farmer insults. My grandpa then walked up to the booth, paid the carnie five bucks or whatever, and was given three attempts to knock Bobo from his perch. He missed all three. As he walked back to us, dejected and beaten, the clown blurted out "Back to the farm, old-timer!"
From that day forward, "old-timer" became my new nickname for grandpa. RIP, old-timer.
3. The day I shook Trump's hand...
Back in 2015, when Trump was in the early stages of his cartoonish presidential campaign, Marisa and I went to the Fair to document his first Oklahoma campaign stop. This was when everyone thought he had no chance of securing the Republican nomination, much less winning the actual presidency. I documented the entire experience, including our run-in with the real "Lost" Ogle, exactly five years ago today.
When we went there, I didn't know that A) due to being at the right place at the right time, I'd get to shake his tiny hand or B) the press pool would get multiple pics of the shake, put it on the AP wire and B-roll footage, making sure it lived on forever.
4. The time I got a job selling programs for the OKC Blazers...
During my Sophomore year of High School, my friend Isaac and I went to the fair back when school's still actually closed one day a year so students could go to the fair. While walking through one of the buildings, we came across a booth for the OKC Blazers – our city's super-popular (at the time) minor league hockey franchise.
I noticed a sign that said they were hiring program sellers and that you could be 14 to apply. I was 15 and wanted a job so I could have this thing called money. We applied, got the gig, and for at least that season, I spent 30 or so nights climbing the long steps of The Myriad, selling programs for a $15 base salary + .10-cent per program commission. That was big money in the mid-1990s.
5. The night I got laid in the Fair parking lot
To protect the innocent, I'm going to leave out as many details as possible, such as the date, woman's name, and whether or not she was from Gotebo or Dibble. Either way, I guess that's probably a memorable state fair experience. Fortunately, we didn't get caught by the cops, and even more-fortunately, nobody tried to break into the car.
Anyway, those are some of my State Fair memories. Let me know yours in the comments.
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