If you’re from the Lone Star State, you know everything is bigger in Texas.
When it comes to the State Fair of Texas, it’s also brighter, flashier and noisier.
But there's one exception on Wednesdays, when for a few hours, the sights and sounds are subdued on the Midway.
“I didn't notice it at first,” said one fairgoer when the hushed atmosphere was pointed out to him.
During three hours on Wednesdays, the music and noises from the rides and the dings from the games are all mellowed. There’s a voice that’s softer, too.
“We have turned Big Tex's voice down slightly,” said Karissa Condoianis, senior vice president and a spokeswoman for the State Fair of Texas.
All this to accommodate people with sensory issues – from migraines to autism.
“The fair is very overwhelming for Chloe,” said mom Sharla Winters.
We tagged along as Winters wove through the fairgrounds. It’s a place she usually avoids altogether for daughter Chloe’s sake.
“It overstimulates her,” Winters explained. “She can't process it like so many of these children. For Chloe, she complains it's loud, she may turn around in circles, she may start crying. She just gets overwhelmed.”
Chloe is 13, but her brain functions as if she was 2 years old. But on this sensory friendly Wednesday morning, Chloe was fine.
“There's still a lot of people here,” Winters said. “But if you're walking down the midway, which we did, which we were nervous about, there just wasn't as much activity. The sound level is down. We're not hearing the normal loud music, even the gaming was a little more quiet. We can definitely tell a difference today.”
It's an oasis, easier on the eyes and ears, in the middle of a highly-charged playground that now everyone can experience.
“Every child should experience the fair and it's harder for us," Winters said. "And yes, as a parent, it brings much anxiety."
Sensory friendly hours at the fair take place from 10 a.m. through 1 p.m. Wednesdays.
For more information or to download itineraries visit www.bigtex.com.