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Gov. Perry Participates in the State Fair of Texas 2008 Grand Opening

Location: Dallas, TX

Gov. Perry Participates in the State Fair of Texas 2008 Grand Opening

Competition is what makes fairs, Texas great.

*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.

Gov. Perry takes part in the State Fair of Texas 2008 grand opening.

Thank you Ruben (Esquivel, Chairman of the State Fair Board) and welcome, everyone to the greatest state fair on earth. It is a real treat to be here at an event that truly exemplifies the best of Texas.

I will tell you that the past two weeks have been a demonstration of what Texas is all about as we have dealt with the impact of Hurricane Ike. Since that storm first took shape on radar, Texans have been doing what it takes to help their neighbors. We safely moved more than 1 million people out of the storm's path then rescued more than 3,500 people who were trapped in its wake.

All across the state, in private homes, convention centers and school gymnasiums, including locations here in the Metroplex, Texans having been taking care of their neighbors from the coast until things are safe enough to return. Our power companies have been working ‘round the clock to reconnect more than 2.8 million people back to the electrical grid, and gas companies have worked to keep fuel supplies at a usable level, because you don't want to be in South Texas without air conditioning, a working stove or running water.

Thousands of people have gone in harm's way, sacrificed sleep, and missed time with their own families to make life better for their neighbors who were hit hardest by the storm. I have also watched the dollars pour into the Texas Disaster Relief Fund as people have reached into their pockets to help those hardest-hit communities recover.

Over these past two weeks, watching Texans stare adversity in the face and work together to overcome a devastating set of circumstances, I have never been more proud to be a Texan. That same spirit of hard work, rugged independence and heartfelt compassion for one's neighbor is alive and well in this place as well.

I can't tell you what a thrill it is for a small town boy from West Texas to be here on opening day for the State Fair. Growing up on my dad's cotton farm in Paint Creek, the county fair was always an opportunity to gather with other ranching and farming families to celebrate the life we had chosen…or had chosen us.

We were always impressed with the fair winners that got to represent our county over here in Dallas. It was a big deal. Trips here with my family were a great tradition that I always looked forward to.

When you think of the hereafter, you might picture puffy white clouds and people playing harps, but my vision of heaven includes walking down the midway with a Fletcher's corny dog in one hand and a cotton candy in the other.

There is definitely something special about this place…and I feel a deep personal connection to it. Some of my fondest memories are connected to this place…and some of my proudest accomplishments too. I cherish the eight years I spent as Ag Commissioner and am still proud to have helped with legislation to fund upgrades to the facilities at this wonderful historic place. I also feel a little sense of ownership when I see the Agriculture Hall of Fame that we helped start.

As I look back on all my times at the fair, I figured out one thing that makes fairs so special…and that's competition. I truly believe that competition brings out the best in people.

Knowing that you will be judged on your accomplishments makes a person work that much harder, whether that's perfecting the perfect recipe for pecan pie, or getting up early every day to feed and water that club calf.

The great thing about it was that people could work for months in their area of interest, go through a judging, then go eat lunch together, whether they got the blue ribbon or just a "nice try." That competitive spirit is what makes fairs great and it's what makes Texas the greatest state in the Union.

We are not afaid to compete, whether that's here in the livestock arena, on the turf at the Cotton Bowl, or with our businesses in the global marketplace.

Texans work hard to be the best in whatever they do…that's why the nation and the world look at us a little differently. That's why we create more jobs than any other state—nearly 1.2 million net new jobs in the past five years. That's why we're the nation's largest exporting state. That's why businesses getting taxed to death in other states are moving here with more jobs and investment for Texas.

That's also why the Oklahoma Sooners circle the Red River Rivalry game on their calendars every year. That's why we're going to bounce back from Hurricane Ike, better than before.

People know going into any contest that Texans are going to wear them out during the competition then shake their hand afterward, regardless of the outcome. So, today, we gather to celebrate that dynamic Texas spirit and show off the best our state has to offer; from cattle to cars, football to corny dogs.

At this time of year, there's no better place to be than the State Fair of Texas. Let's all enjoy it together.

May God bless this place and all the people who pass through these gates over the next 24 days…and may He continue to bless the great state of Texas.

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