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.
From the Annals of the State Fair – In 1930, the first football game was played at the Cotton Bowl at the Fair Park in Dallas. SMU beat Indiana 27-0 to record the first win in the newly constructed stadium. The 46,000-seat stadium was on the site of the former 15,000 seat Fair Park Football Stadium. For more than 75 years, the stadium was the site of its namesake Cotton Bowl Classic which pitted the Southwest Conference champion against another highly ranked team on New Year’s Day. The Cotton Bowl was the site of several of the “mythical” national championship games including UT’s victory over Notre Dame to claim the title in 1969. The stadium was renovated extensively in 1949 increasing seating to 75,504. The Cotton Bowl was home to the short-lived Dallas Texans of the NFL in 1952, the Dallas Texans (now the Kansas City Chiefs) of the AFL from 1960 to 1962, and the Dallas Cowboys from 1960 to 1970. The stadium was renovated again in 1994 in preparation for World Cup games. The venerable stadium was renovated again in the last decade to further increase its capacity. The Cotton Bowl still hosts the annual Texas-OU game and the Ticket City Bowl.