Short Report from the 80th Anniversary of the Centennial Exposition at Fair Park

If you close your eyes in front of Fair Park’s gates you will hear the soft roar of Interstate 30 off in the distance. Stick around long enough and the DART train will come howling. The momentum of sound builds on itself until it dissipates, without a dramatic conclusion, and splatters of footsteps come forth. I imagine this aural sequence is similar to a time-machine’s.

In June 2016, Fair Park celebrated the 80th anniversary of the Centennial Fair, Texas’ celebration of the 100th year of independence from Mexico. The Centennial, held in 1936, was a wild success, bringing in seven million people (Including President Roosevelt), and was often remarked as the introduction of Texas to the United States. Today, Fair Park is in a delicate state. There are a slew of directions proposed for Fair Park to go towards, with boards, panels, and task forces having already been employed. The consensus, if there is one, is that there’s something fundamentally out of step with a place called Fair Park if it only operates fully for three weeks out of every year, the space should do more for the surrounding community.

I spent four evenings photographing Fair Park during the 80th Anniversary of the Centennial. What’s changed in 80 years? What hasn’t? What never will? These questions followed me through the late spring nights, the flags of yore wiggling in the breeze ;  the forces of all of them ever present on these grounds. There are multitudes of stories buried in the architecture and on the faces of the people. In the air, collective memories linger, from times when the trees were shorter.