TRAVEL HERE: CHINESE LANTERN FESTIVAL AT FAIR PARK
Remember the State Fair? I don’t know about you, but I could use a Fletcher’s Corny Dog just about right now. Well, corny dogs aside, one of the big features of this year’s fair was The Chinese Lantern Festival – but we didn’t see it. Twenty dollars a pop seemed a little steep when we’d already coughed up twelve each to get in and were making regular stops to the coupon kiosks so we could get corny dogs and beer. I told you guys to let me know how it was if you saw it, but all I got was the sound of crickets.
So I Checked It Out Myself
Lo and behold, the Chinese Lantern Festival got held over. It’s
not some traveling show that merely stopped by on the way to somewhere else, so we didn’t preempt another city getting to enjoy it. This display of craftsmanship and technology was designed specifically for the lagoon at Fair Park. I can only imagine what that cost. I’ve been speculating on why they held it over. Did other folks stay away in droves during the fair creating the financial need for an extended run or was it just so successful that they couldn’t afford to shut it down? You’d have to ask them.
The show is still twenty dollars a pop if you go on the weekend, but that fit our date night budget better than it did our fair budget. So on a recent Sunday night we headed down to Fair Park.
Should you go to the Chinese Lantern Festival? I think my answer has to be yes. I’ll give you some tips on making it more affordable, but first, let me tell you why you should see it.
Kids Will Love It
If you have kids, they’ll love it. I think the last time I saw so many
kids with saucer eyes, I was at a Disney theme park. Maybe one of the reasons the kids were so enchanted is that there’s a lot of very Pixar/Dreamworks/Disney-ish things to see at the festival. Take the Mermaid Garden for instance. The mermaid has brown hair, not red, but she sits atop her throne holding a great pearl aloft, surrounded by fish that look a lot like Elmo. And there’s a large display of ant characters doing very human things like playing instruments and dancing. I wonder where they got that idea? Not to mention the inspiration for frolicking pandas.
Grown Kids Too
But it’s not all for the kids. Imagine holding hands as you visit the Peking Opera or stroll through peach blossoms promising a life of one thousand years. Structures representing important Chinese landmarks dot the landscape among the pandas and
antz, oops I mean ants.
Several structures go beyond the show of silk and lights which animate most of the displays. A huge dragon made out of porcelain dinnerware is one of the highlights of the show. Part of the fun is picking out which type of plate, cup or bowl has been used to create the different attributes of the dragon. A quadruplet of foo dogs seemed to be made of glowing jewels, but were actually built from small medicine bottles filled with colored water.
The Chinese tipped their hats a couple of times to their host, the great state of Texas, with a herd of longhorns and a
stand of bluebonnets. Oh, and there was also a Statue of Liberty. But I didn’t love all of the show. I realize they had the challenge of building it around things which already existed, but one of those things is a life-sized faux dinosaur with an attitude. A very loud attitude. The Chinese provided the roaring dinosaur with a lot of colorful dino buddies, but did the faux dino appreciate it? Not one bit. The perpetual roars sort of detracted from the magpies and peacocks around the corner.
Warning! Take everyone to potty before you get to Fair Park. The only restroom facilities open to the public is in front of the band-shell which is not exactly convenient. It wasn’t the five minute hike the lady at the entrance told me it would be, but in the dark it was a little spooky. She also told me there were no restroom facilities inside the festival, which was a little bit of a white lie. There are porta-potties in the vicinity of the porcelain dragon, but I’d already taken the hike to the band-shell.
So do go to The Chinese Lantern Festival, but go during the week,
because it will be five dollars cheaper per adult. And don’t park your car inside the gates. Fifteen dollars, friends! FIFTEEN DOLLARS! We scoped out the fast food restaurants nearby and a church parking lot, but were scared by the threatening signs. However, the BBQ joint seemed like a safe bet, so we freeloaded. After the show we exited onto a side street and catty corner to the BBQ place was J.P.Jackson Transit Center. Two-hundred free parking spaces for the taking. You’ll need to hike a couple of blocks to the entrance of the park, but for my money, walking a couple of blocks is well worth fifteen dollars and after the Mexican food we’d eaten before the show, we needed it! Oh, and you could grab a soda and make those potty stops beforehand, too.
Before I leave, I’ll show you a few more shots Bill took. The Festival is a visual feast.