the Fair Park Bandshell has served as an entertainment venue since
it first opened in 1936. The concrete shell has a stage covering an
area of fifty feet by thirty feet. Dressing rooms, rehearsal space,
and a basements are located in a building behind the shell. The audience
section is capable of hosting five thousand guests. Designed by W.
Scott Dunne and Christensen & Christensen, the attraction carried
a price tag of 80,000 dollars.
Photo courtesy Clint Skinner, February 2016
serving the two expositions, the bandshell was used as a venue for
live entertainment. In 1941, it hosted Opera Under the Stars, the
precursor to the Dallas Summer Musicals program. It continued this
practice until Music
Hall had air conditioning installed in 1951. A musical called
State Fair used the location for one of its scenes. Starring
Pat Boone and Ann Margaret, the remake of the original 1945 film
was released in theaters during 1962.
The most popular and longest-running entertainment show at the bandshell
was Birds of the World, which made its big debut in 1988.
The educational production featured a wide variety of birds from
all parts of the globe, all of them performing tricks to display
their behaviors and instincts. It all began in 1974 when a man named
Steve Martin met with a bird trainer working for Universal Studios.
Steve, currently working for a bird veterinarian, was told that
he should seek work at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. He took the
advice and started the first free flight bird show in the nation
two years later. The whole purpose was the promotion of education
and conservation. This philosophy clashed with the wishes of his
supervisor, who wanted the inclusion of novelty acts. Because of
his refusals to comply, Martin was fired from his job in 1980. Instead
of seeking work elsewhere, he decided to take his show on the road,
performing mostly at zoos and other wildlife venues. The company
has grown considerably over the years, evidenced by the 34-acre
Florida home where the birds live. In 2013, after twenty-five years
of providing entertainment, the bird show was performed for the
last time. It was replaced by Wild West Pet Palooza, a program
of rescued stray animals performing a variety of tricks.
November 28, 2016
3.Dallas Morning News Archives
5.Slate, John H. Historic Dallas Parks. Arcadia Publishing, 2010.
8.Winters, Willis Cecil. Fair Park. Arcadia Publishing, 2010.
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