Step inside the doors of The Reserve at North Dallas and Wanda (“Fernie”) Winter, the unofficial ambassador for this beautiful Senior Lifestyle community, may well be the first person to greet you. After just a few moments with Fernie, you’ll know you’re in the presence of royalty. 91 year-old Fernie, affectionately referred to as “The Queen” by her four daughters, is actually descended from royalty, but that’s not really her claim to fame. Her celebrity, like most things in Texas, is bigger than that; Fernie is known as the visionary who brought funnel cakes to the Texas State Fair.
According to the Texas State Historical Association, the Texas State Fair’s history reaches back to 1886, when a group of businessmen from the Dallas area chartered a private corporation. The fair officially opened in October of that year. In the early years, cattle sales, displays of farm machinery, and balloon ascents were highlights of the fair, as well as concerts and appearances by such celebrities as John Philip Sousa and Carry Nation. Prizes were also awarded for excellence in baking, preserving and needlework. In 1953, “Big Tex”, a 52 foot tall cowboy, took up residence in the center of the fairgrounds, overlooking guests and attractions.
Fern made her first official appearance at the Texas State Fair in 1969 when she and her husband took on work cooking at the fair to raise a little extra cash for a vacation fund. She had no intention of making it a habit, but she was hooked, and over the years her restaurant, “Doc’s” has become a staple at the fair. In 1980, after a visit to Branson, Missouri, Fern introduced funnel cakes to the Texas State Fair, and Fernie’s Funnel Cakes were an instant hit. Over the years, deep-fried goodies at Doc’s have won numerous awards at the fair, increasing Fern’s royal reputation. Fern still reigns, greeting patrons who come back annually to enjoy the food and the atmosphere. She runs the show, and her four daughters carry on the tradition.
In honor of the Texas State Fair as well as celebrity-in-residence Fern, the Reserve at North Dallas celebrated a Taste of the Texas State Fair last week with corn dogs, deep-fried brownie bites, and of course, funnel cakes. Sales Director Kris Raab notes, “Our culinary team is so great to work with; they re-created amazing “fair food” and it was a big hit!” Residents and team members also took a day trip to the Texas State Fair to enjoy all the sights and sounds of the fair in person on Friday, returning with tales of amazing food and attractions. Many are already looking forward to next year’s fair experience, sure to be bigger and better! To learn more about the activities at The Reserve at North Dallas, or to schedule a tour of this beautiful community, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.