May 2-18, 2012: Our Cruise to Europe
February 16-19, 2012: A Trip to Natchitoches
Return to the Index for 2012

March 3, 2012
The Irish Festival at Fair Park


Our friend from Plano, Ron and Jay, asked us this week if we would like to go to the Irish Festival at Fair Park onn Saturday, and we were happy to go with them. They drove down from Plano and parked at Fair Park while Fred and I thought we would give DART a try and take the light rail to the park from the new station just down Inwood.

We wandered around the festival with Ron and Jay for the afternoon and then, since had to buy return tickets on DART to get home anyway, Fred and I rode the new light rail route past Inwood all the way to the end in Carrollton and back- just to see what it was like.  

Taking DART to Fair Park

As I said above, Fred and I decided to take Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) light rail to Fair Park.

To take DART to Fair Park, the easiest way is to drive south on Inwood to Denton Drive- about two miles south of my house. There, DART has built a new station for the trains that run on the line that goes to Love Field. This line also goes north to Carrollton, and a branch will eventually go through Las Colinas and out to DFW Airport.

At the Inwood Station, we'll get on a train heading towards downtown.

The current light rail system has five "destinations" from downtown (not counting the DFW Airport destination, which is still years away). The destinations are: Carrollton (far northwest), Plano (far north), Garland (northeast), Duncanville (southeast) and South Dallas/Oak Cliff (south and southwest). (The DFW Airport line will eventually serve the western part of the city, including Las Colinas and Irving.)

At the moment, there are four different "lines" that connect these locations, and all of them go through the downtown station. One line begins in Carrollton and ends in Duncanville. Another begins near Bachman Lake northwest of my house, goes through downtown, and then heads north to Plano. A third begins in Plano, goes through downtown, and ends in Oak Cliff. The last one begins in Garland, goes through downtown and also ends in Oak Cliff. Arranging the lines this way means that anyone who wants to get into the city can take any train heading that way from any station on the network. Heading home from downtown, one only has to board a train for the appropriate destination. And, finally, a maximum of one train change will get you from any station to any other on the system- and sometimes no change is needed. For example, I can go from the Inwood Station on a single train north to Carrollton, eventually to the airport, south to Duncanville and all the way north to Plano. Only if I want to go to southwest Dallas or Garland would I need to change trains downtown.

At the Inwood Station

So we drove down to the Inwood Station and parked in the large, free parking lot.

We stopped on the ground floor of the station and bought roundtrip tickets at the automated machine. A roundtrip ticket between most destinations is about $3, although it can be cheaper if the destination is on the same line. There are also hourly, daily and monthly passes you can by for unlimited travel on the system (which includes the bus network as well). And from one of the stations between my Inwood Station and downtown you can transfer to the Trinity River Express, which is a commuter train that connects Dallas to Fort Worth and the cities in between. One of these days, we'll have to try that. In any event, with tickets in hand, we headed upstairs to the platform.

On the platform and on the train as we pulled out I made two movies. Sadly, I forgot to change the light setting on the first one, so everything looks a bit blue. But you can use the movie players below to watch them:

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A Train Pulls Into the Station
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Coming In to Parkland Station

As you would expect for being pretty new, the trains are nice and comfortable inside. Graffiti is not such a big problem in Dallas as it is in LA or New York, but you will see the occasional defacement. But on the whole, the Transit Security does a pretty good job, I guess. I don't use the trains to commute, so in all the times I've ridden on them, I've always been in mostly-empty trains. But the ride is smooth and pretty convenient.

On the way into town, via a southerly route that takes you along Harry Hines Blvd., around by the American Airlines center, and then up into the center of town from the south, we took quite a few pictures from the windows. It was a nice day, and such days show off our downtown pretty nicely. Anyway, you can use the clickable thumbnails below to have a look at some of our pictures:

At the downtown transfer station, we paused for the few passengers to shift from train to train as necessary, and then our train continued on. Our route took us a bit north through downtown, and then around to the east for a ways, and finally southeast past Fair Park to its route along Buckner Blvd. in southeast Dallas. We got off at the Fair Park station.


The Irish Festival

OK. I'm going to state right off that while it was fun to walk around Fair Park with Ron and Jay, the Irish Festival was, well, I guess the two terms that come to mind are "commercial" and "silly." Not that I expected exhibits on the history of Ireland or anything, but I guess I did expect something a bit more serious and culture-oriented. The three pictures below will exemplify the kind of thing we did find:

Need I say more? Outside the halls of Fair Park, that's pretty much what you saw- folks wearing green, acting silly, eating too much and wandering around in the sunshine.

It was nice to get out and walk around, and there was always plenty see. Most of it, though, was getting another look at the amazing Art Deco architecture of the buildings at Fair Park. We'll look at some of our pictures not related to the actual festival in the next section below. For now, here are clickable thumbnails for a few more of the outside pictures we took:

Inside the halls, things were a bit different. While there were the many booths hawking anything and everything Irish, there was also some decent entertainment and some booths devoted to history and genealogy.

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A Little Irish Music

At one point, I got asked a question and realized that no, I didn't, but I did need to buy one for Prudence to put in her Highlands Room at the B&B in San Antonio. Fortunately, a booth selling all manner of them was right next door. Anyway, below are clickable thumbnails for some inside pictures taken at the Irish Festival:


Fair Park: Architecture and Decoration

We went inside one building for a look around; it is one of the few at Fair Park that isn't an exhibition hall. And we also took a number of pictures of the Art Deco buildings scattered around.


The Hall of State

The Hall of State, located between the Esplanade and the Cotton Bowl, is a shrine to the history of Texas; it opened in 1936 as part of the Texas Centennial Exhibition. Its original name was the State of Texas Building.

The Hall of State

Designed by Donald Barthelme, the building blends classicism and Art Decoľ with a few Texas motifs (cacti, oil wells) tossed in for good measure. Crafted from Texas limestone, The Hall of State was, at a cost of $1.2 million, the most expensive building per square foot built in Texas at the time.

The building's interior includes the North Texas, South Texas, East Texas and West Texas rooms (featuring murals and other items associated with each state region) and the lower level, which houses the offices of the Dallas Historical Society and the Margaret and Al Hill Auditorium.

Through the entrance doors one comes into the Hall of Heroes. The Hall is graced with six, heroic-sized statues of early prominent Texans. I took a photo of each one, and you can use the clickable thumbnails below to have a look at them:

Going straight ahead through the Hall of Heroes, you pass under an interesting mural (that seems to be saying something really important about Texas, although I'm not sure just quite what) and into the Great Hall.

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In the Great Hall

The colonnaded hall has a huge "Texas Medallion" at the far end, and large murals behind each row of columns on either side. I stopped to make a movie looking around the Great Hall, and you can watch it with the player at right.

While I was doing that, Fred was taking pictures of the mural, and they turned out pretty good. You can use the clickable thumbnails below to have a look at some of them:


The Esplanade and Art Deco Buildings at Fair Park

To see the relationship of the Esplanade to the other buildings I've mentioned, take a look at my annotated aerial view of Fair Park below:

I think that in the pictures we took around the Park, you can figure out which ones are of the Esplanade and Pool, and which are of the exhibition buildings that flank it on either side. So let's just take a look at some of them using the clickable thumbnails below:

Fred took a nice movie of the synchronized fountain that's in the Esplanade pool, and you can watch it with the player below, left:

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At the west end of the long rectangular pool, there is a pair of Art Deco fountains (which I don't think were on right then). The whole Esplanade is quite pretty, and the decoration reminds me of Rockefeller Center in New York City- another Art Deco masterpiece. Below are clickable thumbnails for two of the pictures I took out here at the Esplanade:

Of course, Fred took a great many more pictures, since one of his interests is architecture and architectural decoration. You can use the clickable thumbnails below to look at some of the best of the pictures that Fred took:

After a few house, Ron and Jay had had enough with the Festival, and so they headed home. Fred and I took a few more pictures and then we, too, went back to the Fair Park Station for the trip home. I took one last picture of Fred on the steps of the Hall of State with the Esplanade in the background, and you can see that picture here.


A DART Ride to Carrollton and Back

When we were on the train back to Inwood Station, we thought that since we had the time, and had already bought a ticket that was good for a continued ride, that we would stay on the train all the way to the end of the line in Carrollton, and then just stay on the train for the ride back.

A low-level aerial view of our route really doesn't add much, but you can see that the train actually goes very far north; the last station is maybe six miles north of LBJ Freeway, and that is five miles north of my house.

I can't say that we took all that many pictures on the way up to Carrollton; I suppose the trackside scenery wasn't all that interesting, and we were always trying to figure out just where the track was when it crossed streets we were familiar with. But going through downtown and out past Love Field, we did take some pictures, and I have put clickable thumbnails below for the best of these:

We returned to Inwood Station and made our way home.

You can use the links below to continue to another photo album page.

May 2-18, 2012: Our Cruise to Europe
February 16-19, 2012: A Trip to Natchitoches
Return to the Index for 2012