"Provide year-round midway features: ferris wheel, carousel, roller coaster, sky ride and observation tower." So says Page 22 of 2003's Fair Park Comprehensive Plan, which offered myriad suggestions for turning Fair Park into a year-round attraction rather than the ghost town it becomes during those 49 or so weeks out of the year when the State Fair of Texas doesn't fill the fairgrounds. It's been a document often referenced by city officials whenever a reporter asks about the fate of Fair Park. "Just you wait," a former city council member told me only last month.
Alas, there's also been talk for years of creating a "museum green," underground parking and other amenities -- among them, "a multipurpose, year round festival space with infrastructure for food, music and other temporary entertainment." Opening the Midway year-round, though, that's always been the goal. Says the plan:
The Midway Project enlivens the heart of the park -- transforming a space which is dead and fenced-off for all but three weeks a year into a vibrant active place. This project plans for significant construction in the center of the park, increasing visitor support, and creating attractions to draw new visitors to the park. ... The Midway Project extends from the Federal Concourse -- or Big Tex Circle -- out to South Fitzhugh Avenue, encompassing the area north to Nimitz Avenue. ... The results of the Midway project will draw people into the center of the park through great connections with the rest of the park and provide a series of new attractions to raise excitement levels and increase awareness of the new and improved Fair Park.
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Two years ago, The Dallas Morning News ran a piece promising, "Fair Park revamp would create summer-long attraction." A 450-foot-high observation tower would be built by '08; a speedboat ride, by '09. It would seem State Fair of Texas officials have not given up on the dream: Today, Errol McKoy, the organization's president, announced, yet again, plans to revamp Fair Park and create ... a year-round attraction paid for with State Fair proceeds, depending upon how ticket sales go this year and next. I've got a call into McKoy, for whom I have questions, many questions.