2016 Archives

Before corny dogs and Big Tex

130 years of State Fair of Texas history on exhibit at SMU through Dec. 16

September 15, 2016

DALLAS (SMU) – As Texans count the days to the Sept. 30 opening of the 130th State Fair of Texas, fair fans can satisfy their appetites for all things State Fair at a library exhibit on campus showcasing the history of the legendary event, and online at a digital display of a 1936 Texas Centennial scrapbook.

"The State Fair of Texas, 1886-2016, Celebrating 130 Years of a Texas Institution," a new DeGolyer Library exhibit at SMU's Fondren Library Center, features 60 historic State Fair of Texas photographs by Lynn Lennon. She documented the fair for ten years, visiting nearly every day during its three-week sessions from 1984 to 1993. Her striking black and white photographs capture fair icons such as Big Tex, the Art Deco architecture of Fair Park and, of course, food unique to the fair.

The exhibit also includes vintage State Fair items such as a felt cowboy hat signed in 1936 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's children Anna and James, as well as badges, buttons and brochures dating to the first State Fair of Texas in 1886. Many of these are from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection. See more State Fair materials online.

The free exhibit runs from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, through Dec. 16 at the new Hillcrest Foundation Exhibit Hall in SMU's Fondren Library, 6414 Robert S. Hyer Lane. Items in the exhibit are from SMU's DeGolyer Library.

1936 Texas Centennial scrapbook

State Fair of Texas scrapbook 1936SMU libraries also are home to other unique Texana items, including those from the 1936 Texas Centennial, which replaced the State Fair of Texas that year with a six-month event at the newly built Fair Park in Dallas. Images from the 1936 scrapbook of Lucille Robinson, a young woman clearly enthralled with the Fair Park exhibit, are available online.

The scrapbook gives a poignant glimpse into the lives of two young friends who worked at the Texas Centennial in Dallas in 1936. The friendship between the two women began with a mutual love of Shakespeare performances at the Globe Theatre replica at the Centennial. Scrapbook author Lucille and Lavonia Rorie saw Shakespeare plays at the Globe almost daily. After Lucille left for college, SMU student Lavonia wrote Lucille regularly and those letters are included in the scrapbook. Since Lavonia worked a shift at her family's stand at the Centennial, she often sneaked away to the Globe, meeting the actors and making friends with the stage hands, particularly the "little curtain puller, Jack," who let her watch the shows. By the end of the Centennial celebration, Lavonia had seen 73 Shakespeare productions at the Globe.

The scrapbook is part of the Jerry Bywaters Special Collections at SMU's Hamon Arts Library.

From the Exhibit:

(Photographs by Lynn Lennon, DeGolyer Library, SMU.
Click images for hi-res versions.)
Historic scenes from the State Fair of Texas Historic scenes from the State Fair of Texas
Historic scenes from the State Fair of Texas Historic scenes from the State Fair of Texas

Related Link:


Courtesy of CBS 11 News

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Media Contact:

Nancy George
SMU News
214-768-7674
ngeorge@smu.edu 

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