Monday, October 12, 2009
Photo gallery: Fans savor short moments of Oprah Winfrey onstage at State Fair of Texas
Some arrived as early as 2 a.m. to see the taping of The Oprah Winfrey Show, which featured Martina McBride, the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, and quick snippets of the talk show queen.
Oprah Winfrey at State Fair of Texas 2009 (October 12)
Photos by Linda McKinney
FAIR PARK After hours of anticipation and several people passing out from excitement or maybe even deliriousness, she appeared. There was Oprah Winfrey, strutting in a bright yellow cardigan and black cowboy hat, at the State Fair of Texas.
In true Texas style, she clutched a glimmering gold microphone and gave us her best country accent: “No one is going home empty handed today, so you don't y'all fret none,” she said. She threw in a few more y'alls here and there, but it didn't matter; the hundreds of people by the stage -- and the hundreds more crammed into the Midway -- were in hog heaven.
But just as quickly as Oprah appeared, she was gone in a flash for a commercial break. The Oprah Winfrey Show wasn't being taped live, so those commercial breaks sometimes faded into 10 minutes or more, leaving excited Opraholics waiting for the next elusive, climactic moment.
And back out she came. Oprah was joined by her best friend Gayle King, editor of O Magazine, and Nate Berkus, her famous interior designer who was there to rile up the crowd but otherwise didn't have a huge role in the show. We're told that the show will air “sometime next week,” but that they will confirm the date on Oprah's website.
Oprah first crowned a winner in her State Fair food contest. (The famous fried food champions have already been picked by state fair judges, mind you; fried butter and Fernie's peaches and cream took the prize. But Oprah had her own special contest that chose the "best of the best" of the fair's purple ribbon winners.)
Oprah was spotted touring the fair on Sunday, shaking hands with adoring fans and tasting a host of fair food for Monday's show. “Gayle and I have eaten our way through the fair,” Oprah said proudly during the taping on Monday. Then she invited a group of 11 who had “baked their butts off,” we're told, to be finalists in the contest.
“And the winner is …” Dramatic pause. “Peter and Doooor-thy!” You can take Oprah out of the studio, but she still brings that singsong voice with her. Peter Clarac and Dorothy Lacefield each made different dishes; Clarac made a cheesy chorizo strada and Lacefield made "spectacular lemon mousse pie." But King and Oprah just couldn't decide between the two and both were given the grand prize: Energy Star appliances, including a refrigerator and microwave. Also, they got a “brand new Whirlpool washer and dryyyy-er!”
And the crowd went wild, shouting oohs, aahs, and yeehaws as prompted.
Next up was Martina McBride (“Martina McBrii-iide!”), who sang “Ride,” “This One's For the Girls,” and “I Just Call You Mine.” Oprah, Berkus, and King bebopped on the sidelines, signing along. But when something went awry with the first taping and McBride was brought back to do the whole set again, Oprah and her crew stayed backstage. The performance was great both times, even if the talk show queen wasn't there to bless it the second time.
Photo by Linda McKinney
Ali Wentworth played along as the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders danced. She posed jokingly at the end of their routine.
And what's a Texas-sized Oprah taping without a visit from the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders? Oprah reappeared to introduce the dancers, who were joined by actress and Oprah regular Ali Wentworth. “Ali has been deep in training with the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders,” Oprah told the crowd. Out pranced Wentworth in white shorts and skimpy fringe top, waving her pom poms. While the cowgirls began the booty shaking that makes them so famous, Wentworth jokingly played along, messing up each step.
And before we knew it, the Oprah show was all over. We didn't get to see much of Oprah herself, nor did we hear any sobbing stories or poignant advice. “Is it really over?” the five-year-old girl in front of me asked. Being privy to the commercial breaks, sound checks, and camera do-overs was enough to make us feel like television isn't as magical as it seems.
Many crowd members don't agree. “I grew up with Oprah,” said Melissa Dawn, who brought her daughter, Jessica Reagan, from east Texas to celebrate her 19th birthday. “We have two generations of Oprah in our blood, and she's part of our life.”
Dawn and Reagan arrived at 4:30 a.m. to see the show, but they were beat by hoards of people who arrived even earlier. Before Oprah went on stage, Sally Lou Loveman, the audience supervisor for Oprah's show, came out to get the crowd excited for Oprah's big appearance. By show of hands, the crowd held up their fingers to signal what time they arrived at Fair Park to stand in a line that wrapped around the block. Two fingers, three fingers, four. Some even brought their little kids that early – many who were out of school for Columbus Day.
“I watch Oprah at home with mom,” said Victoria Nanthavong, 8. Victoria and her 4-year-old sister, Trinity, arrived at the fair with mom Sophia at 5:30 a.m. After the show wrapped up, they were headed straight for the fried butter. (Word of warning, though: A man told Loveman -- and the crowd at large -- that he now has a thyroid problem from fried butter at the fair. It was hard to tell if he was joking.)
The final goodbye for Oprah fans ended too quickly. More than 100 people ran to the back side of the stage to watch McBride's tour bus pull out as she sat in the front seat, waving. Next came King escorted in an SUV, then Berkus, and finally Oprah. A few teens gave her their most appropriate goodbye. “I love you!” they screamed. And then, like Oprah had done many times that morning, she was gone. This time for good.
Pegasus News Content partner - Linda McKinney
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