Life Around Dallas

Friends, Fun, and Fried Food!

burned155632-300x450By Taylor Corrigan

Every year the great state of Texas looks forward to the State Fair of Texas: fun rides, games, and every kind of fried food you can imagine. Since its first year, back in 1886, the State Fair serves not only as an annual event celebrated with friends and family here in Texas, but visitors come from all over the nation to experience the fun tradition and to truly get a sense of Texas pride,  most notably with the fair’s beloved icon, Big Tex. This year, the State Fair of Texas not only had record-breaking numbers for attendance and sales in food and rides, but it just finished as the most successful year in the event’s 128 year history!

Last year I went to the State Fair for the first time, and I had never experienced anything like it! Similar to other state fairs, except everything at this was bigger and better; the fair spans 277 acres and is the largest state fair in Texas. The fair grounds are also an important part of the iconic event and is both a Dallas and National Historic monument. Boasting of its size in land, it is also home to the largest ferris wheel in North America. Keeping true to the mantra of Texas, everything at the State Fair of Texas really is bigger!

Now, everyone knows that it wouldn’t be a state fair without tons of fried food, and this fair has plenty of it!! This fair is notorious for having the most extreme menu: fried Sriracha balls, deep friend “breakfast for dinner,” fried guacamole, fried bacon cinnamon roll, fried PB & J, and even friend butter. And of course all the other typical state fair foods are there too: corn dogs, funnel cakes, candied apples, and ice cream. It may not be the healthiest night of your weekend, but it sure will be the tastiest!

This year when I went to the fair, I rode one of the largest ferris wheels, won a stuffed animal prize, took a picture next to Big Tex, and ate fried macaroni and cheese — I’d say it was a successful fair too!  While the fair is a hit every year, it turned out to be an even bigger hit this year, celebrating all things Texas, and I can’t wait to go back again next year!

Life Around Dallas

Discovering Dallas: Fair Friendly Friday

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 4.14.47 PMBy Kelsey Buttrell

This past week, I put on my favorite pair of red cowboy boots and walked over to the DART station to make my way to the Texas State Fair. This was my second time attending the fair while being at SMU, and it was as entertaining as I remember. The key is to go during the day on a weekday, so it is not too crowded. The DART let us off right in front of the entrance gate, and we got our tickets. While I was there, we roamed around looking for what we wanted to eat. This was quite the process. There was absolutely everything, and when I say everything I mean everything fried. They had fried diet coke, fried thanksgiving meal, fried snickers and fried enchiladas. I ultimately decided to try one fried treat: the fried pumpkin pie. As crazy as this sounds, it was simply delicious. Then, we walked around to the petting zoo where I got to feed a llama and I rode the Ferris wheel that had the most spectacular view of Dallas. It was definitely an amazing adventure and a great break to this busy week. If you have not visited the Texas State Fair yet you have to go! There is nothing quite like it.

Life Around Dallas

The Final Four in Dallas

By Elizabeth Dubret

Not too long ago, Dallas was lucky enough to host the Final Four!  It was an exciting time to be in the city, and there were so many amazing things to do as a student.  To kick it all off, SMU hosted the Three Point and Slam Dunk competition in our very own Moody Coliseum.  picAs a student, I got a cheap ticket to go and watch this event.  I sat with some of my best friends as we cheered on the competitors and watched how they had formed a friendship.  I then watched the slam dunk competition.  At first, I was not impressed. I felt like I, at five foot two, could do some of these dunks.  But then, they got really good.  Players jumped over things and people, did full spins in the air, dunked backwards, and even swung the ball around their legs.  But, the best part of the night was watching the amazing Adreian Payne have Lacey Holsworth kiss his basketball for good luck before it was his turn. Her strength, his compassion, and their relationship inspired the entire audience.

The next day, the free concerts in Dallas began.  There were artists from the Killers, to Tim McGraw, and Bruce Springsteen.  It was held downtown under the Reunion Tower, and was such a fun time even though it was raining. There were food trucks, vendors, and games, and the concerts were everything the artists had promised.  The other best part of the weekend, was that SMU students received tickets to the final four for $20. Even though SMU was not playing, we could go and cheer on the teams at AT&T Stadium. Overall, having the Final Four in Dallas was an experience of a lifetime and a blast for SMU students.

Life Around Dallas

It’s Springtime in Dallas!

By Erin Robbins

Spring is arguably the most beautiful time of the year to visit SMU and a perfect season in Dallas.  Everything is in bloom, the weather is perfect, and there are tons of things to do outdoors. One of my favorite things to do on a sunny 78-degree day (like today) is head out to the Katy Trail.  I love enjoying some fresh air and vitamin D after a long week of classes and studying!

springThe Katy Trail is a great 3.5 mile jogging/walking and biking trail that starts near SMU and runs through the Uptown area of Dallas.  This trail follows along the greenbelt that the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad used for over 100 years.  in 1997, a nonprofit organization called Friends of the Katy Trail was created to convert the abandoned railroad tracks into the trail it is today as part of a national “rails-to-trails” initiative.

Throughout the trail you get to see some great views of downtown and green landscapes (yes there are trees in Texas for those of you from far away)!  However, my favorite part is seeing all of the Dallasites out with their dogs, which is a huge plus when I’m missing my dog at home.  Another popular activity among SMU students is rollerblading, and there are places to rent them for your afternoon on the trail.  You would never expect that such a tranquil place existed in the midst of the most densely populated part of the city.  The Katy Trail is so accessible and a great outlet for enjoying these beautiful spring days in Dallas! Here is the Katy Trail website if you’re interested in some of the construction they’re doing to expand:

With weather like this there is nothing to keep you from getting out and exploring Dallas!


Life Around Dallas

Fighting for the Innocent at SMU

By Liz Crowell

Now that I am almost halfway done with my time in college (which I still refuse to accept), I truly didn’t think that my experience at SMU would continue to diversify and expand.  Thankfully, I have been proven wrong with the addition of The Innocence Project of Texas into my daily routine.  I was one of those students who changed their major about 5 times and who were always looking for diversity when it came to things to be involved in. bloga I finally settled on a double major in Accounting and Public Policy with a recent addition of a minor in Human Rights last fall semester.  This new minor is what spurred my involvement in The Innocence Project.   One of my current classes for my minor this semester, History: America’s Dilemma, requires either 20 hours of community service at one of four organizations or equivalently a thesis at the end of the term.  Naturally, I accepted the hours over a paper.  In this human rights class, we divulge into the history of this topic and issue with the progression of The United States as well as the world.  We analyze the role human rights have played and the growth it has experienced in topics such as civil rights, The Holocaust and the political world.  Although there is a large amount of reading and work this class is incredible, especially since it allows us to fight for a cause and contribute to individual’s human rights.  The required 20 hours of outside community service with The Innocence Project have now become an involvement I look to carry on long past graduation.

Volunteering with SMU’s division of The Innocence Project has allowed me to be a part of something bigger than just papers and tests.  With weekly meetings and group discussions on clients, I am able to have first-hand insight into the legal and justice system while working for individual’s exoneration that have been wrongly convicted.  When discussing cases and possible strategies, I see myself becoming passionate for a cause that I had never really given a second glance before.  Thanks to SMU and the flexibility it gives to its students, I am now able to graduate with 2 majors and a minor…all in 4 years (something my parents are thrilled about).  More importantly though, it has given me knowledge about things I am not necessarily studying and the opportunity to hopefully make a difference in individual’s life by working with The Innocence Project; long after 20 hours of service.  SMU never ceases to surprise me in the opportunities it provides and I can’t wait to see what else I will come across during the last year and a half of my undergraduate time.

Life Around Dallas

Philanthropic Fun

By Melody Davis

As spring weather is hopefully about to hit SMU, so are several SMU parents this semester! Even if you get to college from out of state, like myself from Florida, and start to miss the family right about the semester halfway point, not to worry – they always like to come to Dallas for a visit! Who wouldn’t?

Some of the great weekends of the spring semester are the different philanthropic events that different student organizations host. This upcoming weekend my Panhellenic sorority will be hosting our Dad’s Weekend Celebration. The fun golf tournament and weekend event raises funds for our philanthropy. It’s a great way to celebrate with the family while for a good cause! I can’t wait to see what this year’s Dad’s Weekend celebration will bring for my perspective Greek chapter, as well as the other organizations on campus that have their Spring Parents’ Weekends coming up as well!

Life Around Dallas

The Hilltop Gives Back

By Kevin Hess

I recently had a chance to go explore Dallas and give a little back to the city that every SMU student grows to love so much. SMU helped organize a volunteer project with a local organization called “Give Graffiti the Brush.” Screen Shot 2014-03-04 at 12.03.12 AMThis was a really unique volunteer opportunity in which a group of SMU students went out into Dallas and helped clean up the city by painting over some graffitied buildings.

This fun morning shows just one of the many opportunities that we have outside of the classroom on the Hilltop (you just have to check your email!). I really enjoyed seeing parts of Dallas that I had never seen before and found it very fitting that SMU was able to give back to the city that helps make us such a great school.

Life Around Dallas

Live at the American Airlines Center

aacBy Kelsey Buttrell

One of the best attributes of going to school at SMU is being in the amazing city of Dallas. One of the amazing things about Dallas is the American Airlines Center. It is the home of the Dallas Stars and The Mavericks. It also hosts many amazing concerts. This month, I got discounted tickets for Imagine Dragons through the ticket office at SMU! My best friend at SMU is obsessed with the Imagine Dragons, and so I decided to attend the concert with her because we received a really good deal. During the whole concert the band never ceased to amaze me. If you are not a fan of their music, I suggest seeing them live. Its 2X better than on the radio! I love the fact that I can witness and experience such amazing talent and shows just by being in Dallas.

Life Around Dallas

The Dallas Music Scene

blog1 By Daniel Brock

One of my favorite parts about SMU is being connected to the Dallas Music Community. A big city offers a wide variety of opportunities that I would not be able to get in a small town. My favorite music event in Dallas is Sofar Sounds.

Basically, Sofar Sounds are these secret concerts from artist and bands that perform in a local’s living room. The whole organization is volunteer based, who plan and run the concerts. What you do is sign up on the Sofar website and if you get selected you and a friend get to attend the event for free. Sofar sounds is international and almost in every major big city in the US and England. The concerts are extremely exclusive, because they only have room for about 40-60 people each time. And once the doors close on the starting time, no one is aloud in or out and if you are late you are banned from being invited back.

blog2Now I know that sounds intense, but the experience during the concert is unlike anything else in the world. By having the concerts in a local’s house, the music feels intimate and personal. The first 30 minutes you get to mingle with the guest and the bands. Afterwards the bands perform a 2 hour show. And you never know who is going to show up. The first Sofar Sounds I ever went to, Marcus Foster (from Foster the People) performed a solo set.

Just last November, I was extremely lucky because my friend and I got involved with the Sofar Sounds Dallas community, so she got to be in charge of the guest list and I got the host the event in my duplex. I never would have imagined when I moved to Dallas for SMU that I would be hosting a private concert in my house.

Sofar Sounds wanted to promote themselves with SMU students, so my friend and I were able invite up to 20 SMU students to spread the word. The show was amazing and performed everything from rock, alternative, and folk music. The O’s, the Roomsounds, and the Friendly Savages all performed about 4-5 songs each. Sometimes you might not be familiar with the bands, but this is the best way to discover up and coming artist. Each band has a unique sound and put on performances with stellar energy.

When I graduate this spring, I am glad I am able to leave a little SMU in the Sofar Sounds community and that SMU students will be going to Dallas Sofar Sounds concerts for years to come. By having SMU in Dallas, you get the best of both worlds of having the college experience and getting involved in the Dallas community.

Life Around Dallas

Life Around Dallas: The Tough Mudder

p1 By Cameron Skreden

This past weekend saw many SMU students get out of their comfort zones by entering and completing the Tough Mudder that was held here in Dallas. Encouraged by the APSM department (Applied Physiology and Sports Management) with reduced entrance fees and big involvement, many students ventured south of Dallas to attempt the nearly 12 mile obstacle course. I personally fielded a team which competed Saturday morning. My team of four had been preparing for this course for a couple of months at the time of the race and we were very excited to participate in Dallas’ Tough Mudder.

p2The course consisted of 11.5 miles of mud ridden obstacles based loosely off of British Special Ops training. Started off as a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project, the concept is very cool: endure a fraction of what our troops’ training consists of. None of us had ever done something like this so we were very excited but definitely nervous. Being supported by many SMU student volunteers, we started our run enthusiastically. The course included 21 different obstacles that tested our mental grit and physical strength. For the next three hours, we enjoyed the camaraderie of one another as we crawled through mud and waded through the deep water.

One of my favorite moments of this grueling race was shortly after completing one of the most difficult obstacles during which I was greeted by SMU fans who recognized me and cheered me and my teammates on. At that point in the race, I truly did need the encouragement. However, this encouragement continued as saw many other friends, classmates and peers of mine. My team pushed through obstacle until we reached the satisfying end. For over 11 miles of work, we were rewarded with an official Tough Mudder headband and a beer.

This was one of my favorite experiences I have had during my senior year here at SMU. The amount of camaraderie and support that I felt from the SMU community was equally instrumental as they encourage us to push our limits. I was very happy to complete such a cool race that supports such an admirable cause.

Life Around Dallas

Everything’s Bigger in Texas

big texBy Erin Robbins

October is my favorite time of year for many reasons; I love everything pumpkin flavored, the weather in Dallas is perfect, football season is in full swing, my birthday is coincidentally at the end of the month, AND it’s Texas State Fair time!

For three weeks, the Texas State Fair comes to life in Dallas. The fairgrounds are only a fifteen minute train ride south of SMU’s campus via the Dallas public transportation and is a great weekend activity.  With midterms finishing last week, I decided that a trip to the fair was the perfect way to enjoy the cooler Dallas weather and treat myself to a few hours away from the library!

downtownRight when you walk in you are greeted by Big Tex, the iconic symbol of the fair (shown in the first picture).

Each year new fried creations compete for one of the coveted Big Tex Choice Awards.  This year the winner of the best tasting was deep-fried Cuban roll and the most creative was fried Thanksgiving.  My personal favorite is fried butter, and until you’ve tried it for yourself I guarantee you won’t understand.  Making sure you don’t eat too much is the hardest part of the fair, especially if you want to enjoy some of the rides.  The Texas Star is the biggest Ferris wheel in North America and can be seen from the entrance into the fair.  It is always one of the busiest rides because it has some of the most spectacular views of downtown Dallas!  I took a picture from the top of the Ferris wheel and had to share how cool it looked.  The Texas State Fair is quite a unique experience and is definitely a must-see during your time as a Mustang!


Life Around Dallas

Life Around Dallas: Uptown

photoBy Kevin Hess

SMU is often advertised as being “just a hop skip and a jump” away from Downtown Dallas. If that is true, then SMU is also only a “hop and skip” away from the cultural center that is Uptown Dallas. Uptown is a trendy, pedestrian-friendly neighborhood less than 10 minutes from SMU’s campus. It is home to many of Dallas’ best restaurants, businesses and financial firms, and even a thriving scene for nightlife. Nestled into this part of town is also one of Dallas’ oldest and most historic neighborhoods, the State-Thomas neighborhood. Uptown is one of my favorite places to spend a day and evening, so I thought I’d highlight a couple of my favorite places.

1. In a city where brunch is the most important meal of the week, Breadwinners is king. Known for its location in an old brick hat factory in Uptown, Breadwinners is a place you can always count on to be packed Saturday and Sunday mornings. It has all the classic brunch options with some Texas specialties that will knock your socks off. A must-go for when you come to visit.

2. Klyde Warren Park is a revolutionary new urban park created “out of thin air” on several city blocks over the Woodall-Rogers Freeway that separates Uptown and Downtown. This park has an amazing range of things going on in it all the time: from food trucks to a luxurious restaurant, from exercise classes to an outdoor library, and from a separate dog park to an amazing children’s play center; it really is a fun place to spend an afternoon.

3. Lastly, no weekend in Uptown would be complete without Gui’s all-you-can-eat sushi special. Every Sunday (Tuesday and Thursday also), this restaurant runs a $20 all-you-can-eat special that holds a special home in many SMU student’s hearts. In my opinion, there’s no better way to finish a weekend then by meeting some friends and stuffing your face with some of Dallas’ best rolls. All-in-all Uptown is just one of many diverse and fun neighborhoods that Dallas has to offer. Neighborhoods like this, with their vibrant and different cultures, make me proud and excited to go to school in such a great city!

Life Around Dallas

The “Big D”

By Courtney Quinn

In March 2013, Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau launched a new branding campaign to get the Dallas community involved in showing off the great city of Dallas. It was a BIG celebration! Huge block letters of “B” and “G” were placed all over the city and asked people to put themselves in the middle and spell BIG. Dallas’ nickname is the Big D, so it seemed like the most appropriate word to be the foundation of the campaign.

524665_10202154791337114_354069362_nThe letters were placed in all districts and hot spots of the city and rotate to new spots after a while. SMU was one of the first locations of the letters! My social media newsfeeds filled up with students posing in their best “I” formation in front of Dallas Hall. I couldn’t wait to get my picture with the letters! However, every time I spotted them it was an inopportune time to begin the photo shoot. Finally, the opportunity arrived!  Just last week, my friends and I were driving to campus on SMU Blvd and right in front of the George W.  Bush Presidential Center was the “B” and “G”! The Bush Center was having a special event so these letters weren’t going to be there for long. We quickly decided to park the car and run over to get the picture. A professional photographer was standing by and offered to take our picture. She was very helpful on how to properly pose. It was the best impulse decision. Now we have our BIG picture and can finally say we participated in the Dallas campaign. Also, the George W.  Bush Presidential Center is the perfect background to show how Dallas and SMU does it BIG!

Life Around Dallas

The Dallas Concert Experience

b1 By Daniel Brock

One of my favorite parts about being a student at SMU is having a major music hub right in our backyard. During my time living in Dallas, I have been able to see all my favorite musical artist at live performances such as Avicii, Cherub, Chiddy Bang, Jimmy Buffett, etc. But every once in awhile, one of my more artistic friends likes to bring me along to Deep Ellum to experience more of the indie bands that I often overlook. For those of you that don’t know what Deep Ellum is, Deep Ellum is Dallas’ more hipster/artsy part of town filled with unique shops, trendy artwork, eccentric dining, and houses the underground music scene.

So my friend had been ragging on me all week to buy these tickets for this DJ that I have never heard of before. I was reluctant at first, but I remember last time she brought me to a concert she introduced me to Cherub, which is now one of my favorite artists.

b2Later, my friend who introduced me to Cherub, told me to buy tickets for DJ Slow Magic and I followed her advice without hesitation. The night of the concert, we arrived at the venue in Deep Ellum, where we climbed up the stairs and snagged ourselves a great spot by the speakers and right in the front row. I am normally custom to DJ’s that just stand and just spin records the whole time, but I had no idea about what I was about to experience with Slow Magic. But there were no turn tables; only drums, computer, and a synthesizer.

All of the sudden, the lights dimmed and a man dressed up in a fur outfit and a glowing wolf mask entered the stage and began to play around on his synthesizer. During the show, he began to do something I have never seen a DJ do before, he began to rage out on the drums while playing along with the techno music he wrote. His mask would change to different neon colors throughout the show as he intertwined the futuristic sound of the synthesizer with the most amazing drum solo I have ever seen. The whole time I was in awe with the amazing colors I kept seeing and I kept finding myself dancing along with his unique drum solos while the music played. At one point in the performance, he picked up one of the drums and than jumped out into the crowd. He placed the drum in the middle of the dance floor and proceeded to rage on the drums as everyone in the audience mosh pitted around him. It was one of the most amazing performances I have ever seen.

At the end of the night, I was extremely glad I went to the concert and my friend once again introduced me to my new favorite artist. Literally, all last week following the concert,  I have been playing all the songs from Slow Magic on repeat when I study and drive to school. I can’t wait to try another concert soon!

Life Around Dallas

Life in Dallas: The Bishop Arts District

b2By An Phan

It took me three years to find it, but I finally did.  Tucked away in Oak Cliff, a neighborhood of Dallas, there is a lively, artsy area called Bishops Arts District.  It has yummy food, cute boutiques, and a trendy clientele.   Here are my favorites from the area:


Dude Sweet Chocolate

I always thought gourmet chocolate places were cool and everything, but I never understood how they could be amazing until I tried Dude Sweet’s chocolate.  They add the weirdest flavors- like salami and mushroom to dark chocolate and it tastes…amazing.  Literally like an explosion of flavor in your mouth.  It’s unbelievable.  I bought the “fruity crack”, which is just cherries and other fruits covered by dark chocolate- nice and simple, but perfect.  The great thing about this place is that the let you sample everything- which is every kid’s dream.  Just sayin’. Check it out.


Ok so I waited for 45 minutes to have brunch here on Sunday.  Worth it.  I sure did wonder if all of the customers drove all the way out there just to have brunch, though.  I ordered the chicken and waffles and the beignets.  The beignets were definitely something else; they had a real honey glaze and lemon juice, which gave them a very unique flavor.  The chicken was mighty tender, too.  As a brunch foodie (and all meals foodie), I would say that this is my favorite brunch place in Dallas.