Fair Park marks a milestone this week when the city of Dallas celebrates 80 years since the Texas Centennial introduced the world to Dallas in 1936 and the majestic Art Deco buildings opened to the public.
"That is the year America discovered Dallas," Dallas Parks & Recreation Director Willis Winter said. "No other city in America has an asset like Fair Park."
The city will host a series of free events to encourage the public to explore the grounds, including a concert by the Dallas Symphony, firework shows and kid zones.
The State Fair of Texas will open the Midway for games and, for the first time, offer free rides on the Texas Star and Texas Tower. Even Fletcher's will sell their corny dogs to visitors Friday and Saturday.
"We need to keep Fair Park relevant and vibrant and continue to reflect on its history and importance in the development of our city," said Winter.
The celebration comes as city leaders weigh the future of Fair Park. Critics have long argued the space is underutilized during the 11 months the State Fair of Texas is not in operation.
This month members of the city's park board are reviewing plans to turn its 277 acres over to a non-profit under the control of the Fair Park Texas Foundation. Proposed plans include adding more greenspace and attractions to make the park a year-round attraction. The non-profit would use millions in public funds and fundraising dollars to transform the grounds and maintain the historic structures.
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The park board is reviewing plans this summer and, if approved, the proposal could go before the city council in August.
This week's celebration will include an area where the public can submit their own visions for Fair Park's future.
Willis, who wrote a book on the history and significance of Fair Park, said the park deserves to be celebrated and enjoyed for future generations.
"I truly believe this is one of the best public spaces in America," he said.