Big Tex Is Ready to See You

New DART service may bring larger fair crowds but ease parking

The State Fair of Texas opens Friday, and it has new attractions and new DART rail service to get there.

Fair officials are expecting big crowds.

“We have a lot of people that we feel weren’t traveling this year that may look at the State Fair as an opportunity to get out and do something fun as a family,” said marketing director Michael Glieber.

Vendor Shirley London was preparing her food stand Thursday with high hopes for heavy traffic.

“It’s a family business, and we really enjoy it,” London said. ”And all the other vendors are like family.”

Her booth, “Shirley London and Sons,” is preparing several fried delicacies to please fair visitors.

“We’re ready to start cooking in the morning,” she said.

The fair has several new attractions, including “Illumination Sensation,” a $12 million fountain and light show.

For a separate admission, the new Butterfly House is open at the Texas Discovery Gardens museum in the park.

But the biggest change is DART’s Green Line rail service, which has two stations serving Fair Park.

DART spokesman Morgan Lyons urged riders to pack their patience for crowded trains, especially on weekends.

“You may have to wait a little bit to get on a train,” Lyons said.

At $4 per person for a daily DART round-trip pass, a carload of people might spend more on DART than they would at the fair’s $10 parking lots. But fair officials still expect DART to increase fair revenue.

“While we understand that we may be sacrificing a little bit on the revenue side in parking, we feel like we can make up for it in added attendance that the Green Line will bring to us,” Glieber said.

The fair is planning to keep its midway and some rides open all summer starting in 2012 as a new amusement option for Dallas. The plan depends on successful fairs the next few years.

“There’s a lot of good things that will have to happen along the way, some financial goals that we’ll have to meet,” Glieber said.

The 2009 State Fair of Texas runs through Oct. 18. Dallas often sees weather extremes during this time, from extremely hot to heavy rain.

But London said she is still optimistic.

“We’re hoping for really good,” London said. “Even with the rain, we normally get a good crowd.”

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