Hey, Big D — don’t forget “Dallas Day”!
by Paula Bosse
“Dallas Day” used to be an important day at the State Fair of Texas. Like really important. Like national-holiday-important. Below is a typical mayoral proclamation announcing the sweeping closures of public and private businesses and institutions on “Dallas Day,” from 1899 (click to see a larger image; transcription follows):
THE GREAT TEXAS STATE FAIR
Wednesday, Oct. 11, is hereby declared to be, and is to be, a full, free and public holiday within the corporate limits of our good city of Dallas, on account of Dallas Day at the Great Texas State Fair.
All business, public and private, the postoffice, the courts, the banks, and public schools, will close from Tuesday evening, Oct. 10, until Thursday morning, Oct. 12, to the end that all may turn out and have one full day’s benefit of this great educational institution.
Every employer in Dallas is charged to be loyal to this, our proclamation, for his own good, for the good of those he employs, for the good of their wives and families and of their sweethearts.
No loyal concern in Dallas will fail to observe this, our annual holiday, or fail to render to their employes every facility for observing it.
Every citizen of Dallas having in his possession a complimentary ticket to the Fair is hereby requested to keep his ticket in his pocket and to pay his way at the gate. Children in arms will be admitted to the Fair free. School children, accompanied by their teachers, at half price.
Done at Dallas this 9th day of October, 1899.
John H. Traylor, Mayor
For decades, it was expected that most Dallas businesses and government offices would close on “Dallas Day.” The central business district must have been a ghost town. Woe be to anyone needing a new frock, a replacement gasket, a bank draft, or even a postage stamp on “Dallas Day.” The city had bigger fish they wanted its citizens to fry.
Here’s an early “Dallas Day” ad from 1889 with pointing fingers:
The State Fair of Texas was (and continues to be) so filled with other ubiquitous “days” (such as old favorites “Hard Money Day” and “Chrysanthemum Day,” as seen in the ad below from 1895) that if Dallas weren’t Dallas, “Dallas Day” might run the risk of getting lost in the jam-packed fair schedule.
There were, of course, “Dallas Day” parades:
ca. 1905, via DeGolyer Library, SMU
“Dallas Day” may still be a thing, for all I know (I guess I think of “Dallas Day” as the day Dallas’ elementary school kids get off to go to the fair, a tradition I hope never dies), but it had lost a lot of steam after those early days. Some businesses continued to close or shorten their hours to let employees enjoy the fair, but the era of a city shutting down so that everyone could flock to the State Fair began to fade after those early decades of the 20th century. But imagine how exciting that must have been, with all of Dallas descending on Fair Park en masse.
Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.