No more 'Summer Adventures' at Fair Park

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by TERESA WOODARD / WFAA

WFAA

Posted on February 19, 2014 at 9:18 AM

DALLAS — An attraction aimed at bringing people to Fair Park during the 11 months when there's no State Fair of Texas won't be coming back. Summer Adventures has been canceled for 2014 and probably won't be back.

Those who champion the southern side of Dallas feel let down.

The State Fair spent $30 million on the Summer Adventures program, adding attractions and making improvements to the Midway. But Summer Adventures only had one summer to prove itself.

"It's $30 million well spent," said State Fair of Texas spokeswoman Sue Gooding. "It was not a failure by any means. We had a great 85 days; it's just time for us to move on and look toward the future."

City Council member Dwaine Caraway disagrees.

"It's a boot in the butt, as far as I'm concerned," he said.

Caraway was dismayed he did not learn about the cancellation of Summer Adventures until we told him. "It's something they should have discussed through the Council," he said. "Am I ticked? Completely.”

Summer Adventures was an attempt to give families a theme park experience without leaving Dallas. But attendance was low, Gooding admitted. The State Fair of Texas added one full-time position and and several seasonal positions, which are now gone.

"They virtually got fired today without notice," Caraway said.

Gooding said the decision to cancel was something they had thought about for a long time.

"Speaking on behalf of the employees of the State Fair of Texas, it is a disappointment to us," she said. "There are young people in Dallas we put to work here in seasonal opportunities that made Dallas proud. Some of them are now going to be looking for work and they will make excellent employees."

Caraway said more effort should have been made to stay the course.

"We don't look for anybody to go broke with this, but did they do all the right things to make this successful?" he aaked. "Why not come to us and say, 'This is where we are, and what collectively can we do?'"

The State Fair of Texas is an independent corporation that says it receives no tax dollars. The $30 million was spent on attractions and upgrades.

Some that were added — like the Top of Texas Tower — were big hits during the State Fair of Texas's fall run.

But the Flowrider, a simulated surfing wave pool, isn't a fall attraction because the weather's too cool during the fair's season. So the future of that attraction remains to be determined, Gooding said.

Money was also spent improving utilities and bathrooms along the Midway.

Gooding said the State Fair of Texas remains committed to looking for ways to fill up Fair Park year-round.

"More than five million people have attended this park in the last 12 months. That's nothing to sneeze at," she said.

But Caraway thinks more should be done. "I'm ticked with the Park Department," he said. "Roll up your sleeves and fill Fair Park. That's what you get paid to do."

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

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