Chinese Lantern Festival lights up State Fair of Texas

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By Gabby Sahm
Staff Writer

With excitement in the air, the State Fair of Texas opened on Sept. 27. Everyone was eager to see the new Big Tex, eat the new fried foods and ride the 212-foot ferris wheel. However, there is a hidden gem at the fair that comes in the shape of paper lanterns.

The Chinese Lantern Festival is an attraction that was added to the State Fair last year. It is a special attraction, which runs through Oct. 20. It cost $14 for adults and $9 for kids ages 4-12. After the State Fair is over, the Lantern Festival runs independently until Jan. 5, and will only be open Thursday through Sunday evenings.

The construction of the attraction is very time consuming. Small completed pieces and raw material are shipped overseas from China to the west coast. Once there, the pieces are trucked to Dallas, where more than 40 artists arrive to construct the remainder of the exhibit. This year, workers have changed a lot, and have now even added a theme.

“Light a New Dream” is the theme to this years festival. It has 17 new scenes, that help play out the theme. It also has daily acrobat shows, new Chinese and western food and a Chinese arts and crafts market.

The craft market artwork that has been passed through the centuries. Watch as the artist weave palm leaves into all sorts of shapes like scorpions, snakes and dragons. They also have a sugar artist, who creates marvelous figures, almost too good to eat.

Sophomore Mary Lou Guevara attended the Chinese Lantern Festival opening weekend, and since it was her first time visiting, she was shocked to see such works of art.

“I thought it was really interesting and fun to walk around and see all the different works of art,” Guevara said. “I had never seen anything like it”.

The new scenes include an impressive royal dragon boat that you can walk on, and a porcelain pagoda towering over 50-feet high. The pagoda is made out of 68,000 strategically placed plates, bowls, spoons and wine cups all tied together by hand. Last year they did have a porcelain dragon, but it was only made out of 15,000 plates.

Some of the other scenes consist of anything from flowers and animals like monkeys and pandas, to huge fans and almost life like sculptures of women in kimonos. They even have statutes of everyone’s Zodiac signs, with predictions about what to look forward to in the year to come.

“My favorite part was the zodiac signs because it was cool to read about what awaits you in the future,” Guevara said.

Even though people can visit the festival during the day, the true magic happens at night. The lanterns illuminate, start to move and take on a life of their own. Even the trees have lights strung through them to help make everything feel more alive.

Overall, the Chinese Lantern Festival is a must see this year at the State Fair of Texas. Once you see this spectacular exhibit, it will be hard not to come back and see what wonders await you next year.