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Fair Park plans to offer more than just The State Fair to Dallas

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by Maggie Jones

For a little longer than one month each year, The Texas State Fair brings Texas natives and tourists alike flooding into Fair Park. However, for 11 out of the 12 months of the year, civic leaders and City Hall have grappled with ways to promote the park on a more regular basis.

“Fair Park has 6 million visitors a year, and roughly half of those come during the month of the State Fair, which means the park has a tremendous under utilized capacity,” Craig Holcomb, executive director of Friends of Fair Park, said.

On May 4, Fair Park will open its first step toward making the grounds a yearround site with Summer Adventures at Fair Park™, which will remain open through the month of August. There have been three “master plans” in addressing the issue to get to this point, according to Holcomb.

Typically, Fair Park vacates when the State Fair comes to an end and remains idle for the remainder of the year. However, Summer Adventures at Fair Park intends to be a chance for the grounds to attract the public during the summer months. The summer attractions include a ferris wheel, roller coaster and observation tower, along with various other kid-friendly rides.

“I think it’s smart for Fair Park to consider opening up to the public full time. They get so much attention for the state fair, people would probably be interested in seeing what attractions they would bring to Texas all year,” Claira McElroy, SMU
senior, said.

Fair Park is mainly advertising its newest ride, Top o’ Texas: The worlds tallest tower ride. The ride is intended to be the focal point of the summer entertainment, and aims to make 13 rides per hour, holding 100 riders per trip. At 500 feet tall, the ride will accommodate 1,300 riders each hour and is expected to include 1.4 million LED lights. Top o’ Texas has been said to cost approximately $12 million.

“The geniuses at the State Fair dreamed it up. It is a ride that looks like the Space Needle in Seattle but it goes to the ground and revolves as it goes up in the air. At the top you can see all across Dallas,” Holcomb said.

Summer Adventures isn’t the only project that Fair Park has in the works, as renovations are being made to The Cotton Bowl. The improvements will include completely remodeled concourses, club seating, VIP boxes and an exterior face lift. The renovations at The Cotton Bowl were allotted a budget of $20 million, which is not expandable, according to Holcomb.

“Money is our biggest challenge. Fair Park is the world’s largest collection of art deco exposition buildings. They are 75 years old and most were expected to fall down five years after construction. We are always looking for funds to restore art, fix roofs, maintain plumbing and electrical systems and improve the general appearance of the grounds,” Holcomb said.

As home to The Texas State Fair, the park maintains enough recognition to continue attendance each year. The State Fair will continue to be a primary attraction on the grounds, but according to Holcomb, they hope that the new attractions such as Summer Adventures, the Summer musicals or Fair Park Fourth, will bring in even more people to see this primary attraction.

“I have worked at Fair Park for 20 years and know that when you get folks to come for the first time, they will come back,” Holcomb said.

  • A. Butler

    A few weekends ago, I happen to have an event to attend at the Historic Fair Park. As we drove around looking to locate the facility in which we’d be spending our evening (actually night), it was quickly noted that on this particular night Fair Park seemed to be busier than usual. Although the wedding reception we went to had more than 700 in attendance, I was pleasantly surprised to know that the affair we were attending was only one small event going on at Fair Park that night. It was easily after 10:00, and families were leaving from Summer Adventures, Music Hall Parking was still full, and the cheers from the Gexa let us know that the concert was still in full swing.. All that to say, there are some activities and events going on at Fair Park outside of the State Fair. I filled out a survey last year expressing how I’d like visit Fair Park for fun filled activities outside the State Fair, and lo and behold, Year round fun at the Historic Fair Park is here for all to participate..

    A. Butler


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