The Issue We All Face
When the people of Dallas think of Fair Park, visions of Ferris Wheels, Big Tex, and corn dogs run through their heads. While it cannot be argued that the State Fair of Texas is a Dallas landmark, it only lays claim to Fair Park for a third of the year. The other eight months are spent abandoned and neglected.
During its creation in 1886, Fair Park was envisioned to be the social center of Dallas, with a bustling year-round park and market, not just a landing place for a Fair that would leave it worn and tattered until needed again in the following year. Unfortunately, through the failings of a lethargic local government, and the blatant heedlessness of the State Fair Corporation, the once successful epicenter of Dallas life, has fallen into nearly irreversible disarray.
The slow and gradual decay of Fair Park spans over many centuries and multiple generations. This has caused the citizens of Dallas to lose interest in the dilapidation of one of their cities greatest parks, and at no fault of their own. Fair Park and South Dallas have a vibrant history, that has been covered up by hollowed out concrete buildings and fenced off parking lots, put in place to benefit the State Fair.The people of Dallas have been conditioned to believe that Fair Park and its surrounding communities, have "always been that way”, but this is not the case.
This is why, as our city stands at a crossroads, we stand with the side that will bring a valuable change to Fair Park. The people of South Dallas are proud and passionate and love their community. They deserve to live in a city that cares as well. The people of Dallas deserve to have their once-beautiful park taken from the hands of the wealthy, and given back to the community. Remember, it does not always have to "be that way”, and you can make a difference.
Why you should care
The last twenty years have been spent investing time and money into bettering communities around Dallas. From Deep Ellum to Uptown, there has been a rapid influx of new businesses, young professionals, and families. Unfortunately, one area in Dallas that is in desperate need of assistance, has seemingly been left behind.
South Dallas, a historically African American community, has been given the short end of the stick for decades. It is one of the most impoverished areas in Dallas, with high rates of unemployment and crime. The people of South Dallas struggle every day to work and support their families. Companies cannot lay roots in the areas surrounding Fair Park, because for the four months that the State Fair is active, they cannot conduct business. South Dallas has seen eight public school closures in recent years, and the population continues to diminish as people leave in search for work elsewhere. If any place is deserving of a helping hand from their city, it south Dallas, so why have they not received it?
It is our duty, as fellow Dallasites, to come to the aid of our neighbors. They have suffered egregious wrongs for far too long, under the supervision of the State Fair Corporation. We cannot pick and choose which portions of our city that we care about. This is why it is pivotal that we stand with the side that not only plans to create a beautiful year-round Fair Park, but that they will make it a park for ALL people.
Fair Park in the News
Dallas is home to the iconic Texas State Fair, but the land the Fair lives on, has become the victim of neglect and thoughtlessness. In an attempt to revive this desolate wasteland, the City of Dallas has proposed a plan to privatise the ownership of Fair Park.
Currently, there a three entities, with three drastically different plans, bidding for control of the park. The first of which is Dallas's own "Fair Park Task Force”, which was assembled by the Mayor of Dallas, Mike Rawlings. They propose turning the 277 acre lot into a "private, nonprofit operating-marketing authority”. Under their recommendations, there would not be many drastic changes to Fair Park. This proposal is the favorite of the State Fair Corporation, because it has the smallest effect on their business. In short, it sticks to the status quo.
Another, more radical proposal, has been proposed by a smaller group, lead by architect and urban designer, Antonio Di Mambro. Di Mambro wrote "The park itself needs an extreme makeover, but any investments in Fair Park should be done in unison with the rebuilding of the surrounding community edges if the park is to really succeed and become a 'park for all people'”. His plan would be an entire overhaul of Fair Park, and would turn it into the iconic community center that it was always destined to be.
The future of Fair Park in Dallas is currently hanging in the balance. There is a heating bidding war going on between entities who want privatized control of the park. On one end, lies the Humann plan, which is supported by the State Fair Corporation. On the Other end is the Di Mambro plan, which is supported by chairman of the Foundation for Community Empowerment and former Trammell Crow executive, Don Williams.
Don Williams has been an avid oppositionist to the State Fair Corporation and the vice grip that they have on Fair Park. He details his disapproval in a 13-page open letter to State Fair Chairman Richard Night. From mismanagement of funds, to corruption, and the detrimental effects of the Fair on surrounding neighborhoods, Don Williams openly ripped into the operations of the State Fair Corporation.
Don Williams' point is that, we can not possible fix the problems that torment Fair Park and the surrounding communities, if we do not first handle the State Fair Corporation, because, as stated by Journalist Mike Wallace in 1972, "the people who run the Fair are the people who run Dallas”.