Founded in 1886, the State Fair of Texas now ranks as the most largely attended state fair in the U.S. It was begun as a private, nonprofit corporation for civic purposes by Capt. W.H. Gaston and other pioneer business and civic leaders of Dallas.
Since 1904 the fair grounds have been owned by the city, which maintains them as a public park except during the annual two-week fair.
The fair suspended operations for two years in order to permit the Central Exposition of the Texas Centennial Celebration to be held here in 1936. In 1937 the Pan American Exposition used the grounds.
Over the years great names have appeared here, including Wild West showman Buffalo Bill, Harry Houdini the magician, silver-tongued orator William Jennings Bryan, and Comanche War Chief Quanah Parker.
Federal, state, and city governments have erected a series of permanent buildings on the fair grounds, including the Hall of State, five other museums, Music Hall, Livestock Coliseum, and "Cotton Bowl".
Originally 80 acres in size, the grounds have been successively enlarged to include the present 250 acres. Over 100,000,000 persons have entered its gates during annual expositions.