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The Esplanade runs almost from the Parry Street entrance up to the Hall of State. There is a collection of art deco buildings which line either side of The Esplanade which were built for the Centennial Exposition. Usually down the centre is a reflecting pool. You will see Dallas downtown buildings in the backdrop.
Hall of State
The Hall of State is described as a majestic shrine depicting the history of Texas from its pioneer days through to around 1936. The building is a another beautiful example of art deco which you see around Fair Park and this particular building was built in 1936.
Other Areas in the Gardens
Other areas in the gardens are the Heirloom Garden, All American Garden, Shade Garden, Callier Garden, Sharkespeare Garden and the Scent Garden which is actually beside the main building and not enclosed. To the rear of the Tropical Conservatory is this bronze statue called The Gossip. Other statues are found around the gardens also.
I must admit that I was a little disappointed with the gardens. It was smaller than I expected and unless you are really interested in the nitty gritty of a lot of plants, you may also be a little disappointed.
The Reflecting Pool
Just outside the Tropical Conservatory is the Leftwich Reflecting Pool which contains an aquatic plant collection that is maintained by the North Texas Water Garden Society. If you are lucky you will see some lily's flowering and you might just get to see the odd frog or two.
The Gardens were built for the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition in Fair Park and had the first public conservatory in the Southwestern United States.
At the back of the property is the Grand Alley. A long pathway on either side leading down to a circular pond and found and a sculptured raised garden.
Texas Discovery Gardens
The Texas Discovery Gardens sit on 7.5 acres in the Fair Park grounds. Like most of the buildings in Fair Park, the gardens building is Art Deco style and has been designated as a National Historic Landmark
There are various areas to walk around and view. First just off the main building is the Tropical Conservatory
Open : Tues - Sat 10am - 5pm, Sundays 1 - 5pm. Closed Mondays. Admission is Free on Tuesdays.
From the terracotta looking paths you can see some unusual little bridges in the main lagoon where you can see the odd turtle or two sunning themselves. A regular pathway under shady trees connects both ends of the lagoon.
The lagoon sits behind the Science Place, Imax Theatre and Museum of Natural History and fronts the Aquarium and Band Shell and was named after philanthropist Dorothea Leonhardt.
The lagoon operates Swan Paddle Boat rides from 10.00am to 6.00pm. at $5.00 per person or $10.00 per boat although it is a stretch to fit more than 2 adults unless it is a small child.
The Tower Building is a focal point of the Centennial Exposition of Fair Park. It was formally called the Federal Building and was designed in 1936 by Dahl. In 1999 this 40,000sqft exhibition hall underwent restoration. The interior rotunda has 4 murals in each corner which represent the four compass regions of America. The ceiling is decorated with stenciling and floor is patterned. All the original furniture still remains in the room.
The bas relief on the front of the building were designed by Julian Garnsey and tells the story of the history of Texas.
Sydney Smith Memorial Fountain
The Sydney Smith Memorial Fountain sits outside the Music Hall in Fair Park. Sydney Smith was a long-time Secretary of the State Fair Association. Captain Smith was a Confederate veteran who fought during the Civil War and served 4 years in Company D. He died in 1912 at the age of 73 and is buried at Greenwoods Cemetery. The memorial was unveiled on October 14 in 1916 by his granddaughter. The statue is sculptured by a Dallas artist Clyde Gitner Chandler. It consists of 4 female figures which symbolise the characteristics of Texas - 'Mountain' is seated, 'Prairie' at her knee, 'Gulf' reclines and the winged 'Gulf Clouds'. At the time of this photo, the fountain was not operating.
Fair Park Band Shell
The Band Shell is right behind the Science Place. In 2000 it was refurbished back to its original 1936 look. All the lead paint was removed and new lighting was added. The shell has 3,800 permanent seats but can hold 4,500.
Cotton Bowl Stadium
Cotton Bowl Stadium was built in 1930 and is the home of the Texas-Oklahoma University game in October of each year. The Dallas Cowboys games were played in the Cotton Bowl until 1971 and SMU's home games were played there too for years but they are now played at Owenby Stadium.
The stadium is Dallas' largest outdoor facility and can seat 100,000 fans. The Cotton Bowl is also the site of the Southwestern Bell Cotton Bowl Classic played on New Year's day.
The Dallas Firefighters Museum
The Firefighters Museum has been set up in the 1907 No.5 Hook and Ladder Company Station right opposite Fair Park. They have a great collection of old fire equipment, clothing and fire trucks which includes 'Old Tige', a 1884 horse-drawn steam pumper and a 1936 ladder truck. All the displays record the history of fire fighting which span about 100 years. There is also more modern day equipment on display.
The museum is staffed by retired firefighters Wednesday through Saturday from 9-4. There is also a gift shop.
State Fair of Texas
September 26 - October 19, 2003 • Fair Park in Dallas
Considering I live within a few miles of the Dallas Fair Park, it's only natural that I skip on over for the huge state fair at some point each year. My catalyst is usually a musical act I want to catch. The last show I was excited to see there was Lucinda Williams. The concerts are free with state fair admission, no extra ticket is required which is great. But keep in mind they don't feel the need to give you the show they normally would. They tend to keep it shorter. But considering you have the fun of the fair, that's usually fine.
Fair favorites would be the musical acts, the fair foods, the great photo booths that sprout up around the place, the ones that take those fun black and white photo strips. One year they had a big I Love Lucy exhibit with loads of cool stuff including a set. It did have a separate entrance fee.
Just strolling around people-watching and drinking cold beer can be worth the trip.
Beware of the day of the Texas versus Oklahoma University football game. The fair is usually absolutely packed with rowdy fans. It's the major rivalry in this area and the game is held at a stadium at Fair Park.
• General Admission: $12
• Kids under 48" tall: $8
• Seniors 60 and over: $8
• Children 2 and under: Free
• Seniors 60 and over: Free every Thursday
There is also a Dr. Pepper Two Dollar Tuesday where if you bring a can, you can get in for 2 dollars.
PARKING: $7 in lots operated by the State Fair of Texas. Look for "Official State Fair Parking" signs. Valet Parking – available at Grand Avenue Gate or the Parry/Haskell entrance – is $20.
You can also buy advance tickets by following the weblink.
- Theme Park Trips
- Family Travel
The Womens Museum
The Womens Museum is the nation's first comprehensive women's museum and it opened in conjunction with the State Fair 2000. It features a 30 foot electronic quilt (multi-media wall), mentor phones, morphing imagery, myth maze (glass labyrinth), listening wall, futuristic theatre and exhibits on loan from the Smithsonian Institution.
This building was originally built in 1910 as Dallas' first coliseum - cattle auctions were held by day and at night Operas were performed.
More in my Travelogue.