Pre-Fair Fair Park Report, Part I

The State Fair of Texas is upon us; in fact, it started just over a week ago as of this writing (October 7), back at the tail-end of September. I haven’t gotten to go yet, but I expect I’ll be heading over there in the middle of next week or thereabouts. Meanwhile, this is an excellent opportunity to introduce you to Fair Park itself, which is a semi-permanent affair in which almost all of the structures therein live lives of their own, independent of the yearly fair. I’ve already given you a taste of that fact with my entry on the Dallas Aquarium at Fair Park, which is nestled within its own little corner of the fairgrounds. Gators and gars and piranhas, oh my!

I plan to give you a rundown of Fair Park’s primary permanent facilities Real Soon Now™, but let’s take a look at the purely Fair-related facilities, the ones that are use but a few weeks per year. The obvious example, of course, is the Midway. This is where they keep all the games, and the Haunted House, and the Ford and Chevy pavilions, and all those places where you can buy seriously artery-clogging goodies like kettle corn, funnel cakes, three-dollar corn dogs, caramel apples, and saltwater taffy — you know, all the stuff that you only get when you’re at the Fair or some other carnival of delights. And here’s where it all starts:

Coupon Booth

Yessir, paradise at fifty cents a ticket. Be sure to buy a lot of them, because if you can get anything significant for less than four tickets, you’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din. Most of the good stuff costs more — sometimes lots more. Speaking of the Midway, here’s a picture of a small part of it. Looks pretty sad when it’s empty, doesn’t it? Keep in mind that it’s empty 47 weeks of the year.

Midway

You can see several of Fair Park’s major features from a mile away, but none is so obvious as the Texas Star. That’s the big ol’ Ferris wheel that rears a good hundred feet into the sky. It’s no London Eye, but it gets the job done. Most of the time it’s just a giant sculpture, but it works just fine when they crank it up every year. It’s real pretty when they light it up at night.

Texas Star

When I was ambling around taking pictures a few weeks back, I couldn’t get back into all the Midway areas where the real neat stuff happens, because they had it blocked off. They were installing this snazzy new skyway tram to take people from one end of the fairway to another. It was new to me, but apparently it replaces a skyway that was taken down back in 1979. I don’t want to scare you or anything, but the reason it was dismantled was because it failed spectacularly on the very last day of the Fair, sending several cars plunging to the ground. Luckily only one person was killed, but several others were seriously injured.

Other often-unused areas of the fairgrounds include the huge open promenades on International Boulevard, a picture of which I’ve included below.

Promenades

Most of the year, they’re just big open spaces, but during the Fair they’re littered with huge soundstages — for all the concerts, don’t you know. One year we saw Michelle Branch, Lifehouse, and The Calling perform one after the other. Back then Michelle Branch was the least popular of the three acts, but she was the best.

The exhibition halls on either side of the promenades are packed with cool exhibits (including a truly exotic petting zoo that I’ll be sure to get pictures of if it’s here this year), and overheated visitors. It’s usually still pretty hot during the Fair, so the vendors make money hand over fist selling big cups of ice with a little spritz of soda. You know how that goes; you’ve <>

of flowerbeds. One thing that I was disappointed to notice, however, is that in some areas of the Park, the groundskeepers apparently take November-August off. While I was wandering about in early September, there were a few blow-and-go guys hanging around, but not many. This I found ironic, since a lot of the little greenspaces had been adopted by specific groundskeeping services, each of whom had proudly put up their little signs that said they were the ones taking care of that particular area. Sometimes the little areas were at best a few square meters in size. Here are two of those little areas. I must say, I’m impressed by their conscientious observance of their duties*, a privilege they probably paid a lot for.

Undergrowth

More Undergrowth

Or maybe they were going for the jungle look, which is, of course, very Texasy.* I dunno, I just live here.

So that’s it for today, but look out for more to come — I’ve got a lot to show you about the rest of the place!

*NOT.