By Hayley Kappes
Killeen Daily Herald
It's state fair time again in Central Texas as the smell of cotton candy, turkey legs and the hum of amusement rides permeate the air.
The Central Texas State Fair is coming to the Bell County Expo Center today through Sunday and locals have an economical and entertaining way to spend Labor Day weekend right in their own backyards.
The fair will feature professional bullriding, a demolition derby, a freestyle bicycle stunt team, talent show, hypnotist and many other live acts.
Keith Smith, fair manager, said the fair used to be held in the middle of September, and was moved to Labor Day so it can accommodate more people.
"Our midway brings the largest carnival to the area every year, with family-oriented rides," Smith said. "That is the coolest thing when I see mom and dad and they've got their little kids and they're smiling and having a good time. That's what we're about."
Smith said he tries to get a wide variety in terms of the food booths.
"You can gain about 10 pounds in one day," Smith said jokingly. "There's some unusual stuff. One guy cooks barbecue out of a school bus. Then there are the usual fair foods like funnel cake, turkey legs, catfish and Mexican food."
The fair is the only event the Expo Center produces by itself all year, and Smith said it gets bigger and better every year. Live music will be featured every night, showcasing the Billy Holt Band, Marshall Dyllon Band and Wild Horses and the Leon River Band.
"It helps our quality of life," Smith said. "We bring something in this weekend that maybe people only do once a year. With the way gas prices are, you don't have to leave our area to have a good time. Coming to the fair is not going to cost you a whole paycheck."
Smith said 30,000 to 35,000 are anticipated to show up.
Ken Whitener, hypnotist and motivatiional speaker, will perform two shows a day and this marks his seventh year at the fair.
"My shows require a lot of audience participation. I use volunteers from the audience. I am not the star. The people who volunteer are the stars," Whitener said. "I explain how hypnosis works and the power of suggestion. I give people a few simple suggestions as a warmup, do some comedy and play around a bit."
In previous shows, Whitener has hypnotized people into thinking they are Tina Turner, Hannah Montana and 50 Cent, among other celebrities.
Whitener looks for sincerity in people when they volunteer to be hypnotized on stage, because hypnosis does not work on skeptical minds.
"It's always been a great response at the fair, that's why I keep coming back," he said. "People come to see their friends on stage. Every show is different."
Marvin Wycuff, production manager for Frontier Rodeo Company, said this is the fifth year they have been at the fair and they have changed up the show from last year.
"There will be professional bullriding, junior bullriding and mutton busting, where kids 6 and under ride sheep," Wycuff said. "We have great crowds and it's going to be a great show."
Contact Hayley Kappes at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7559.