From the Annals of the Fair – In 1936, the Central Centennial Exposition opened on the site of Fair Park east of downtown Dallas. The remarkably quick project had started construction in October 1935. Architect George L. Dahl designed 50 buildings in an Art Deco style. The CCE was the first world’s fair held in the Southwest. The most popular attraction was the “Cavalcade of Texas,” a historical play depicting four centuries of Texas history. Another feature, ” The Hall of Negro Life”, was the first such exhibit (however racist) to feature black culture at a world’s fair. The CCE ran through November 29 with official attendance of 6,345,385. Many of the exposition buildings, including the Hall of State, were preserved and Fair Park touts itself as the only World’s Fair site predating 1950 that is still standing. Fair Park is now the site of the annual State Fair of Texas.
Historical Footnote: The CCE was used as the backdrop for The Big Show a modern-day western featuring Gene Autry. Autry played movie star Tom Ford as well as his stunt double. The movie also features sidekick Smiley Burnette and the Sons of the Pioneers (including future star and Red’s boyhood hero Roy Rogers). Autry appears in the Cavalcade of Texas in one scene – singing to his horse Champion. TBS is worth watching if only to see what the CCE actually looked like during its run. The movie was filmed during the last two weeks of September in 1936.