Art&Seek on Think TV: Fair Park Public Art Quirks
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I have many fond memories of Fair Park through the years. Somewhere at my folks' place are some Polaroid pictures of me as a kid at Fair Park during the State Fair. My birthday's in October during the State Fair. And I have a faint memory of going there for a few of my birthdays.
But I'm not one of those who claim to have been to the State Fair annually since childhood. But having enjoyed the Arts & Seek video featuring the Watermelon Kid, Steven Butler, I reminisced a bit.
Fair Park was also a yearly destination for local schools on Fair Day. I recall being issued a ticket to the State Fair and going together as a school to the State Fair on our school buses. A few years ago I took a group of 10 or so of my college students to the State Fair. It was like herding cats. So I think my memory must be a little faulty there. How could the schools keep track of so many kids running around?
Further reflection leads me to believe that we were given the day off for Fair Day and taken to the Fair Park Aquarium & Natural Science exhibits at some other time of year other than the State Fair.
I treasure the history of Fair Park. My own personal history with the park is limited because we were from Richardson and Fair Park in pre-DART Rail days was totally out of reach except for field trips.
But a quick inventory reminds me that Dad took me to see the Baylor/Alabama Cotton Bowl in January of 1981. He pointed Bear Bryant out to me a few times. I told Dad that Coach Bryant wears Tom Landry's hat.
We used to go watch my brother compete in the Cotton Bowl Tennis Tournament at the unheated Automobile Building between Christmas & New Years. It wasn't uncommon for players to wear ski jackets on top of their warm-up suits during pre-match preparations. It's now played at area club's indoor HEATED facilities.
I volunteered for FIFA during the 1994 World Cup at the Cotton Bowl. Because of my language skills, I worked protocol for World Cup ´94 out of the Magnolia building. We chauffeured FIFA big-wigs to and from DFW Airport. I went to most of the World Cup Cotton Bowl games that way.
I saw Nirvana at the Fair Park Coliseum. Bassist Krist Novoselic was impressed with the Soviet style stars on the walls of the arena. Saw Soundgarden there too. We saw Radiohead & Spiritualized at the Fair Park Music Hall for their OK Computer tour back in 1998.
At the Cotton Bowl we saw Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band for their Born in the U.S.A. tour in 1985. Saw the Rolling Stones for Steel Wheels in 1989. Saw Stevie Ray Vaughan & The Who in 1989.
We went to all of the first year 1996 Major League Soccer Dallas Burn games at the Cotton Bowl. We were even season ticket holders back then. Going to Burn games in the middle of summer meant there were always parking spaces available and a row of benches in front of you to kick your feet up on. The Dallas Burn mascot was the horse Islámico. Some rider would dramatically ride Islámico onto the field before each game.
The club, like the rest of Major League Soccer, was struggling back then and left Fair Park because they didn't get a cut of the parking. The stadium was way too big for TV. That is, it didn't look good on camera to see so many empty seats. So Fair Park lost MLS soccer's Dallas Burn to an exurb stadium in Frisco, TX.
A few years back, the State Fair Hall of State hosted a very impressive exhibition of WWII propaganda posters and uniforms. I really enjoyed going back in time to see how enemies were depicted and how ominous colors and contrasts were used to maximum effect.
I would love to see & use Fair Park more often. I applaud the efforts of the Friends of Fair Park http://www.fairpark.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=195
A couple of weeks ago we went to see Mexico play Colombia in a soccer-friendly at the newly renovated Cotton Bowl. It was a chance to see the new Fair Park Green Line rail stop in all its Art Deco glory. Parking was $10 and the four of us opted for that rather than spend $4 each on the DART train. (State Fair of Texas & DART need to pow-wow about that cost discrepancy for future State Fairs).
Dallas is a forward leaning city. Always has been. So it's nice to have a place that has some history to it. Fair Park should always be preserved for posterity's sake. There was talk some time ago about making Fair Park a 365 days/year amusement park. I don't know about that. But I would like to see more invested in Fair Park's future in our city. Perhaps a city/state plan would combine Fair Park with efforts to revive Deep Ellum.
This past week saw the opening of the Arts District's flashy Winspear Opera House and the Wyly Theater. While these are events to be celebrated, it makes me wonder whether our city's development efforts are scattered about too much over disperse areas of town.