The State Fair of Texas is just around the corner, which means Jeremy Larsen is about to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Last year, the home designer and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Realtor entered three items into the Fair’s cookie contest. He was recognized for them all.

“I didn’t think that was a very big deal until other people started telling me it was,” Larsen said. “It turns out a first-time entrant getting three honorable mentions is pretty good.” (more…)

Most Endangered Historic Places in Dallas

Fair Park’s Hall of State (Photo: Michael Cagle)

My tip came in last week, this is what I was told by an anonymous source:

“The city attorney’s office is now telling Mayor Rawlings that the Humann plan won’t fly, that they were wrong, and they do need to open the bid up to RFPs.”

As a blogger, I guess I could have published that last week. Instead, I made a few phone calls to the Dallas City Attorney’s office. No response. Then I made a few phone calls Monday. No one has yet to return my call. I sent an email to Paul Simms yesterday, he responded nearly immediately that he had not heard anything.

Then today, Jim Schutze writes in the Dallas Observer — good Lord he posted at 4 a.m., my kind of hours — that the rumors are flying around City Hall that the Fair Park privatization plan is on its deathbed:

 …close observers around town are beginning to place bets on strong rumors that the Walt Humann Fair Park deal will fall apart soon. The ostensible reason – the one for public consumption — would be that a new adverse city attorney opinion says it wasn’t done right.

Hmmmmm.

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Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography

Panel of experts at #DecisionFairPark Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography

After the panel discussion Thursday night, the audience wanted to debate on past 9:15 pm, but we did not want to outstay our welcome at King of Glory Lutheran Church. I promised to keep the discussion going on CandysDirt. Here is an OpEd and a different view from one of our editors:

Thursday night the Candy’sDirt.com team managed to pull off an amazing event – they overcame every hurdle put in their way (including a potentially politically-motivated last minute change of venue) and hosted Decision Fair Park at the King of Glory Lutheran Church, an open discussion about the public/private partnership to control Fair Park. The good folks at King of Glory did not succumb to phone calls asking to cancel the panel.

As a Lifestylist® and founder of American Housing Advocates, affordable housing and homelessness are issues that are very important to me, as well as the lifestyle that having a 277-acre park so close to downtown affords all of us. The Fair Park Privatization Plan is a hot topic for almost anyone that lives in or cares about Dallas, and like everyone else I had an opinion. That opinion changed after the discussion last night, and now I’m more committed than ever to get involved with the decisions being made. Here’s why you should as well.

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Fair Park Ferris Wheel SM

Turning Fair Park over to a private nonprofit could be good for Dallas, if it is held accountable, Jon says.

[Editor’s Note: We’re hosting a robust conversation about the future of Fair Park here on CandysDirt.com ahead of the 8:30 a.m., Aug. 4 City of Dallas Park Board meeting that could help decide the iconic landmark’s fate. Earlier we had a post from Amanda Popken covering the Monday meeting at the Hall of State. Below, Jon Anderson puts the plan itself in his sights and shows why Mayor Mike Rawlings and Walt Humann are in a hurry to pass the Fair Park Texas Foundation 20-year contract. We join our brethren from D Magazine, Dallas Morning News, WFAA and Observer in voicing concern and skepticism.]

The City of Dallas is set to become Fair Park’s and the State Fair of Texas’ Sugar Daddy if Mayor Rawlings and Walt Humann have their way.  On Thursday, the Parks and Recreation Board is set to vote on the Humann plan for Fair Park, after five silenced board members walked out of the last meeting after Parks Board President Max Well sought to limit discussion on the plan, leaving the meeting without a quorum.  Those were five brave, and I think correct, souls.

To back up a few days, there was a flurry of activity on Monday.  First, Mayor Rawlings had a press conference to whine about a meeting later that day titled, “Our Fair Park: A Conversation About a Dallas Treasure” to which neither he nor District 7 representative Tiffinni Young were invited.  While not being invited to the stage, they certainly weren’t precluded from attending the meeting, which by all accounts they didn’t.

The meeting was a place to yet again voice concerns that have been unanswered by Humann and Rawlings.

The issue for opponents isn’t the setting up of a public-private partnership for the stewardship of Fair Park.  The issue is the shroud this plan has operated under and the fear that the management contract with the city has loosey-goosey language and blank timetables that enshrines continued opaqueness for the next 20 years (the term of the contract).

For example, requirements for public meetings and open records are apparently not in the most recently distributed management agreement. But both Rawlings and Humann claim this is a myth along with the contract’s lack of specific planning goals to reconnect the park to the neighborhood, install needed parklands and the like.

UPDATE: The updated agreement is now available as part of the Parks Board meeting agenda for Thursday. The new document does have language supporting open meetings but is unclear on public access to financial records beyond IRS Form 990.  The document is a HEAVILY edited work-in-progress with pages and pages of strike-throughs and edits visible along with a boatload of blank pages.  Hardly the sort of condition a document of this type needs to be in on the eve of a multi-million dollar vote on a multi-decade project.

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State Fair Remodel - Small

The State Fair of Texas is upon us and it’s more than Fletcher’s Corny Dogs, Goodarts Peanut Patties and whatever’s being popped into the deep fryer this year (no surprise: there was no line for the 60-ticket lobster with champagne gravy). It’s also a place to shop for some home improvement.

But remember, this is a fairground, so don’t get carried away and forget to do your research. Sometimes there’s a deal to be had. Sometimes you waste $20 trying to toss that plastic ring on the bottle neck just to “win” a $3 garish stuffed animal. Don’t let the grease fumes distort your reasoning.

For those thinking about remodeling, one option is Statewide Remodeling who are offering 20 percent off. Started in 1994, the company is the largest remodelers in Texas with offices in Dallas, Plano, Austin, Houston, and San Antonio – and for the next little while, at Fair Park. They seem to do it all from exterior to kitchens, baths, windows and the like.

Jump for more deals to be had at the State Fair of Texas:

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For our money, fall is the best time of year for living in Dallas. Along with football games, the State Fair of Texas and the holidays looming just around the corner, our reward for enduring the brutal summer heat arrives in the form of refreshingly cool and crisp autumn air. It’s a great time to be outside and to enjoy some of the beautiful fall color that we are seeing around town right now.

Fall is also a great time to plant and if you are considering adding some new trees, we’ve asked our favorite Landscape Architect, Harold Leidner to suggest a few trees that will work well in Dallas and will pack a punch of fall color. Check out his Pinterest gallery Trees for Dallas with Fall Color.

  • October Glory Maple (Acer rubrum’ October Glory’) – A great street tree that has an upright form and brilliant orange and red color in the fall. ‘Autumn Blaze’ is also another good variety to try. A showstopper for sure.
  • Japanese Maples (Acer palmatum) – A beautiful and delicate ornamental tree that needs protection from full sun and can have some gorgeous deep reds, orange and bronze colors in the fall. The perfect understory tree.
  • Chinese Pistache (Pistachia chinensis, pictured below) – A medium sized tree for residential gardens that is rather fast growing to about a height of 40’ tall. Another tree with a brilliant mix of orange, yellow and red colors.
  • Ginkgo – (Ginkbo biloba) – You will almost certainly know where one of these Gingkotrees are in your neighborhood. They are used much less often because they are slow growing, but their fall show of vibrant golden yellow leaves is well worth the wait.
  • Aristocrat Pear (Pyrus calleryana ‘Aristocrat’) This variety of pear tree is a much better choice than the typical ‘Bradford’ variety because it is fast growing and has a better form and branching structure. Not only will it turn a deep red color in the fall but it will provide a beautiful display of white flowers in the spring. The ‘Capital’ and ‘Cleveland Select’ are also good varieties as well.
  • Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) – This tree has a tall, more upright form that is great for parkways or tighter spaces and yields a brilliant blend of red, orange and yellow colors. Try out the fruitless variety as well to skip the spiky green/brown balls.
  • Shumard Red Oak (Quercus shumardii). This large scale shade requires plenty of room to flourish, but provides a deep burgundy door in the fall before shedding its leaves. The Shumard variety is best for Dallas.
  • A few other smaller scale and ornamental trees that provide a variety of fall colors are Redbud (Cercis canadensis), Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indicia), Dogwood (Cornus florida, pictured at top), Flameleaf Sumac (Rhus lanceolata), and River Birch (Betula Nigra ‘BNMTF’).

Happy planting and enjoy the fall color show while it lasts.

Chinese Pistache