north of the Food
and Fiber Building, Pan American Arena has its origins going back
to the turn of the century, but details remain elusive. The structure
received renovations, especially to its exterior so it could match
the surrounding buildings, in preparation for the centennial celebration.
Originally called Livestock Coliseum, it was transformed into
a roller skating rink during 1941. It has since become a place to
watch live shows during the state fair. Officials have gotten into
the routine of providing two regular attractions and one temporary
show. The permanent productions currently presented at the arena are
a dog show and a series of pig races.
Photo courtesy Clint Skinner, February 2016
The Ultimate Dog Show is provided by Lou
Mack, the owner of a Las Vegas company called CoolDog Productions.
Operating since 1982, the business rescues stray canines and trains
them at a two-acre facility. The dogs perform tricks such as frisbee
catching, hurdle racing, and long jumping. In addition to entertaining
audiences, the shows are used to promote adoption and stress the importance
of controlling the pet population.
The pig races first arrived on the scene in 2005. The swine are provided
by Joe Hedrick, a man who owns an exotic animal farm in Nickerson,
Kansas. People are invited to take a tour of the facility and interact
with a variety of animals including kangaroos, yaks, antelopes, ostriches,
porcupines, zebras, camels, giraffes, and many more. In addition to
the farm, Hedrick also has a bed and breakfast hotel with animal-themed
rooms. He provides four-legged participants for petting zoos, camel
rides, zebra races, live theatrical productions, and pony rides.
Joe Hedrick brought ostrich races to the state fair in 2013, replacing
a dog show called The Amazing Dobermans. Twenty-four arrived
for the daily event, but took turns throughout the season racing against
each other. The jockeys riding on top only had a single pad to hang
onto because the ostriches had no reigns. The whole attraction lasted
for two years.
The latest visiting production was called The Lone Star Horse Spectacular.
Narrated by actor Barry Corbin, it told the story of Texas using the
six flags motif. In addition to the horse riding stunts, there were
singers, dancers, and a bullwhip artist. It will be replaced in 2016
by a show about the Old West.
Behind the arena, there is a large area filled with stables for the
horses used by the local cops. It also contains a special museum
that pays tribute to the history of the K-9 and mounted units of Dallas.
A section of the building on the right side of the arena hosts a petting
zoo. Its animals come directly from the animal farm owned by Joe Hedrick.
Next door, a corral serves a the location of horse demonstrations
and a rodeo for kids.
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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