By PAT SCHNAKE
ON A ROLL: Construction personnel work hard to continue the improvements at Expo Square. Phase I of construction began in October 2000, and in September Phase IV should be completed. Projects still underway include the Armory Kitchen, Midway leveling and the new Exchange Center, pictured above.
GTR Newspapers photo
This year’s Tulsa State Fair will provide an opportunity to see an amazing change that has taken place over the past few years at Expo Square. In fact some of the new projects will be completed just in time for the Fair, which starts September 25 and runs through October 5.
Visitors to the Fair will notice the improvements immediately. New construction, a new Midway, landscaping and parking improvements will greet visitors upon their arrival.
“People will definitely notice how fresh and clean our facilities are and the overall look of the Fairgrounds,” says Amanda Blair, marketing and media relations manager for Expo Square. “We really pride ourselves on continuing to improve on what is already one of the top 10 fairs in the country. Our goal is to make it the best run fair in the nation.”
Blair says the new and improved Expo Square would not have been possible without the support of Tulsa County residents.
“We are gracious to the citizens of Tulsa County for their support of Four to Fix the County and Vision 2025 which has allowed us to make all the improvements we’ve been able to complete. Clearly, the citizens wanted to take Expo Square to a new level and we’ve been able to deliver,” says Blair.
The improvements not only provide a premier venue for the Fair, but also allow Expo Square to attract top caliber events from all over the country.
Preparations for this year’s fair have been in the planning stages for the past year and this year will be particularly challenging because just days after the fair ends, an exciting major event arrives at Expo Square that will require a quick transformation.
“We’ve been preparing for an entire year not only for the Tulsa State Fair but for the Super Bowl event of Tulsa, the U.S. National Arabian and Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show that begins just days after the end of the fair,” Blair explains.
There will actually be 1,050 tons of dirt coming onto the complex for the Arabian show. Beginning the night the fair closes, this work will be completed in just five days, transforming the QuikTrip Center from a huge Fair exhibition area into a horse arena with approximately 2,000 horse stalls.
“It’s going to be a tight turn around, but we did a test run last year to see what kind of adjustments we needed to make to ensure a smooth and efficient transition from the Fair to a world class horse show,” comments Blair.
The Arabian horse show is one of the largest in the country and will bring in an estimated $40 million in economic impact to Tulsa County.
Among the new facilities fair attendees will see are Central Park Hall and the Exchange Center. Central Park Hall, a $10 million facility, was recently completed and includes 43,000 square feet of exhibition space.
During the fair, Central Park Hall will feature the Just for Kids area. This wonderful new facility will feature, all under one roof, games, interactive educational exhibits, free live entertainment and the popular Nick Live.
The Exchange Center was an existing facility that was completely torn down and rebuilt to provide 58,000 square feet of clear span exhibit space. That facility will house the Made in Oklahoma vendors and exhibits during the Fair.
Fair attendees will also notice a newly renovated Midway. The $7.5 million project was designed to make the Midway more level and easier for fair attendees to navigate their way through the many rides and games featured in this area.
“The new Midway will have only a gradual two percent slope from the west to the east. It used to be very hilly and not conducive for people strolling the Midway and for setting up rides,” says Blair.
Blair says this year’s Fair will provide a totally new look and feel. “It’s going to be fresh, with new buildings, different layouts than in the past and that will result in better experience for all our patrons,” comments Blair.
One thing Blair and the Expo Square staff remain proud about this year’s fair is that there is something for everyone, from tiny tots to seniors.
“We constantly strive to improve what we do each year so that there are new experiences for everyone attending the fair,” says Blair. “In fact, there’s so much to do that our research shows that a lot of our fairgoers visit multiple times.”
Among the many new attractions this year will be Disney’s High School Musical: The Ice Tour! This is the only live celebration of High School Musical and High School Musical 2 from the smash hit movies.
It is very appropriate that the theme for this year’s Fair is “We’re on a Roll.” It is very easy to see when you visit Expo Square. Even as last minute work is being done, the improvements are visually stunning.
“The reason that theme was chosen was because of all the new buildings and improvements that have and continue to be made at Expo Square. We are on a roll into the future with all the exciting changes and we’re really looking forward showcasing the improvements to nearly one million visitors who come to this year’s fair and to other upcoming events throughout the year,” says Blair.
For more information on this year’s Tulsa State Fair and other events at Expo Square visit the web site at www.exposquare.com. Be sure to look in our next issue for details on all the events and attractions to be experienced at the Tulsa State Fair.