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Fair Park History

The Early Years
The Early Years

A New City Park
A New City Park

The Exposition Years
The Exposition Years

The Post-Centennial Years
Post-Exposition Era

Restoration and Renewal
Restoration & Renewal

Restoration and Renewal (1985-Present)

October 1985

“The Texas Star,” a huge Ferris wheel, begins operating on the Midway.

November 5, 1985

Dallas voters approve $9,375,00 bond package for Fair Park improvements.


Automobile Building remodeled to resemble Centennial Building.

April 21, 1986

Texas Sesquicentennial Celebration held at Fair Park: Vice President George Bush Sr. and wife attend.

June 15, 1986

Science Place I opens in old Museum of Fine Arts building. Former Health and Science Museum reopens as Science Place II.

August 9, 1986

Fair Park "Festival of Lights" rededication ceremony in front of the Hall of State.

August 17, 1986

Davy Crockett’s Bicentennial Birthday Bash held at Hall of State.

September 25, 1986

Fair Park designated a National Historic Landmark. Friends of Fair Park Texas Promenade unveiled. Protests against South African Apartheid are planned.


Hall of State closed for renovation.

January 1, 1988

Dallas Park and Recreation Department assumes responsibility for upkeep of Fair Park, a duty that previously belonged to the State Fair Association.

July 23, 1988

Despite a retaining wall cave-in on July 17, the 20,000-seat Starplex Amphitheater opens at Fair Park for first performance by British rock star Rod Stewart.

February 9, 1989

Demolition of Comet roller coaster begins.

November 11, 1989

Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial dedicated; President George Bush Sr. speaks. The Rolling Stones perform at the Cotton Bowl.

May 21, 1991

Queen Elizabeth I and Prince Phillip are guests at a grand dinner held in Hall of State.

November 13, 1993

African-American Museum, established in 1974, opens to public in new building at Fair Park.


IMAX Theater opens adjacent to Science Place II.


Ciampaglia murals on Centennial Building and Food and Fiber Building uncovered and restored.

January 1998

New owner continues operation of Old Mill Inn restaurant.

June 2000

In an 8-year renaming rights deal, the Starplex Amphitheatre is renamed Smirnoff Music Centre.


Almost all of Fair Park’s buildings are restored or renovated, including the Tower Building, the Aquarium, the Automobile Building, the Band Shell, the Centennial Building, and the Aquarium Annex.

August 2002

Consulting firm Hargreaves Associates retained by City of Dallas to “develop a long term plan to increase the vitality” of Fair Park “on a year-round basis.”

September 17, 2002

Replica of Woofus is erected in agricultural area of park and dedicated on September 20.

September 2002

“Big Tex” celebrates his 50th “birthday.”

October 2003

Hargreaves Associates presents Fair Park Comprehensive Development Plan to City of Dallas.

(This timeline consists of selected dates only, which were derived from a variety of sources.)

Copyright © 2003-2017 by Steven Butler. All rights reserved.