Texas Centennial Celebration Posters, 1936

The world comes to Texas

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by Jenny Cobb, Associate Curator of Exhibitions

Fried food. Cotton candy. Cooler weather. Carnival rides and games. It’s fair season in Texas!

The State Fair of Texas has a rich history, its origins dating back to 1886 when a group of Dallas businessmen formed the Dallas State Fair and Exposition held at Fair Park. In 1934, Fair Park was selected as the central exposition site for the proposed 1936 Texas Centennial celebration. No state fair was scheduled in 1935 so they could begin a $25 million construction project that transformed the existing fairgrounds into a masterpiece of art and imagination. 

The Texas Centennial began as an advertising campaign to encourage more investment in the state. As the nation struggled through the Great Depression, planners of the Texas Centennial Celebration depicted Texas as a land of opportunity and second chances, playing off of colorful and romantic Texas myths already made popular by fictional Western movies and books. Photographers and journalists joined in, promoting images of cowboys, cowgirls, and ten-gallon hats. Through these efforts, Texas was deliberately aligned with "the West," distancing the state from the lingering remnants of the Confederacy and its Southern identity.

Texans celebrated the 100th anniversary of Texas independence from June 6 through November 29, 1936. The Dallas exposition included 50 exhibit buildings, the hit performance "Cavalcade of Texas," dozens of star performers, and theatrical presentations that captivated over six million visitors. Texas was presented as the most modern of states with previews of television, commercial air travel, and air conditioning.  

Today, the State Fair of Texas is recognized as one of the most highly-attended state fairs in the United States with a 24-day showcase of entertainment, exhibits, and competition.

See this and other artifacts on the Interactive Texas Map

Texas Centennial Celebration Posters, 1936 Artifact from Dallas, Texas
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