DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – When Jack Pyland, IV says he’s grown up at the great State Fair of Texas, he means it!
He says he got his first gig, with a fellow vendor, at 6 months old.
“Fletcher’s needed a sound effect of a baby crying, so my dad volunteered me. Took me into a studio and pinched my butt until I cried,” he shares with a twinkle in his eye, and the quick speech of someone who’s spent decades on the midway. “And for years, when my mom and dad walked down the midway, she’d hear that recording and slap my dad and say ‘quit making my baby cry!’ He paid for that, dearly, for years,” he finishes with a hearty laugh.
Yes, Jack, IV, is quite the character, sharing that he learned to count while keeping up with the bags of potatoes the stand used. Then he turned 16, and knowing how to count really came in handy!
“And my mom couldn’t understand why all my friends and I were coming out to climb on the roof and count inventory cups. What she didn’t know was when we got on the roof to count inventory cups, we could see over the curtain into the burlesque show, called Cotton Review, so we were watching the show while counting cups!”
His mom grounded him, but Pyland’s life-long connection to the fair rooted him as well.
He cares deeply about the institution, and the people who work so hard each year to make it happen.
“We found out years ago, when we’d get out here, and we’d be working, I’d cook for my employees,” says Pyland. “Everybody would want to buy some food, so I went and petitioned the state fair to let me open early. So I open up early and have discounted food for the employees, so they can have a place to eat, they don’t have to run off the fairgrounds. …come over and eat real quick and get back to work.”
Because as the clock ticks closer to opening day, vendors say every second counts.
“There’s not enough hours in the day,” exclaims Michelle Edwards, whose booth is nearby, “like, I need 10 extra hours today!”
So Edwards is one of those “customers” delighted that the hot food is a nearby option.
“It’s amazing. It keeps me on the grounds where I don’t have to go anywhere and I can get something to eat really quick and and it’s good food!”
And the State Fair it serves?
“It’s Texas!” exclaims Pyland. “It’s big and it’s great!”
And so is this family legacy: Yes, there’s a Jack V just waiting for his turn at the basket.