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State Fair of Texas, Centennial Exposition (1936)

State Fair of Texas

Silent | 1936

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  •  Great footage of the animatronic dinosaurs 
  •  A bugle and drum corps plays in uniform in "Midget City" 
  •  Humble’s Hall of History 
  •  Scenes of the art deco buildings and sculptures of Fair Park, including the Six Ladies of Fair Park 
 
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This footage captures scenes of the Texas Centennial Exposition held at Fair Park in 1936. Images of the Hall of State, the main promenade and reflection pool, and the art deco buildings and exhibit halls are included, as well as scenes of the animatronic dinosaurs in action!
The Texas Centennial was a year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of Texas independence from Mexico. Events all over the state commemorated the milestone, such as the Texas Frontier Centennial in Fort Worth and Galveston’s Mardi Gras.  Several existing buildings were commissioned for the centennial, including the Texas Memorial Museum, The Sam Houston Memorial Museum, The Panhandle-Plains Memorial Museum, and the Alamo Museum, among others. Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio all vied for the chance to host the main exposition, but Dallas won due to its financial commitment.
 
The Centennial Exposition in Dallas was heralded as the first World’s Fair held in the Southwest. It ran from June 6 to November 29, 1936, and again from June 12 to October 31, 1937. The festival’s most visited attraction was the “Cavalcade of Texas,” a pageant of Texas history. Another draw was the Hall of Negro Life, which was the first acknowledgement of black culture at any World’s Fair. In the midst of moralistic and educational efforts, the midway also served as a space for drinking, gambling, and strippers, a sure way to make money at the height of the Great Depression. One of the most appealing parts of the exposition was the nightly lightshow where 24 multicolored searchlights that could be seen from miles away. 
 
Famous visitors included President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Gene Autry. The exposition served as a filming location for The Big Show, a 1936 western in which Gene Autry played himself. Over 6 million people attended the fair, and while that was below the projected figures, organizers were ultimately pleased with the boost to the economy and the recognition it brought Dallas.