What a Ride!

It takes a lot of energy to make your state fair memories.

Licking powdered sugar off her fingertips, she felt her stomach starting to grumble at her – for eating that second funnel cake. OK, it wasn’t just the funnel cakes.

Since arriving at the fairgrounds that morning, she’d managed to three corndogs, a jumbo chocolate ice cream cone the size of a grapefruit, her favorite ooey-gooey and some cheesy french fries – with a slice of greasy pizza to boot. How she was able to eat like that without downing half a bottle of antacids, she knew not.

Eating in mass quantities certainly feeds the fun of the annual state fair – a dizzying swirl of sights, sounds, smells, youthful exuberance and, yes, some gluttony. Behind the scenes, natural gas and oil play a part, powering and supporting the magic that is the state fair.

In her opinion, the state fair was the highlight of the year. Growing up just 15 minutes down the road, she went every year as a child. Now 22, she made the trip home from college every summer so she could spend at least one day at the fair. Some of her most treasured memories happened there.

Ferris wheels – which use electricity, increasingly generated using natural gas – are named after George Washington Gale Ferris, whose design brought more than 1.4 million paying customers to Chicago in 1893.

The State Fair of Texas, one of the largest in the U.S., attracts more than 2 million visitors and generates more than $50 million in sales.

The country’s oldest state fair in Syracuse, New York, will celebrate 177 years in 2018, with the help of natural gas and oil.

When she was a little girl, her granddaddy helped her raise pigs for 4-H competitions. She almost won first place when she was 10, with her Berkshire pig named Phillip. But one of the Butler farm boys took the blue ribbon instead. To help her get over the disappointment, her mother threw her a state fair-themed birthday party a month later.

During her teenage years, anyone and everyone from school would tread on the winding paths between the rides. In a small way, fair attendance helped decide who your friends were going to be that year. She made some of her best childhood chums there – like Sarah. She met Sarah the same year the Rascal Flatts came to perform. They both ditched their parents to get closer to the stage. While dancing, they accidentally bumped into each other. They spent the rest of that week at the fair together and became best girlfriends.

The fair also became the venue for a couple of summer crushes. Nothing was more romantic than a couple of love-struck teens riding the ferris wheel after dark, holding hands, making mostly impossible promises to each other. Or sharing a bag of popcorn, ultimately ending in a playful contest involving the leftover kernels. Then sneaking away to a dark spot to share a first kiss.

All at the state fair – fueled, propelled, illuminated, stocked and otherwise made possible by natural gas and oil and dozens of things made from or with them. They make sure the lights at the state fair stay on, growing memories that will last forever.

Natural gas and oil: Powering the moments that matter.