Though it looks much like an ordinary display booth at the
Oklahoma State Fair, it's really market research. Fair officials are
gathering the public's opinion of preliminary designs for a $100
million renovation of the fairgrounds - a project state fair
officials say makes good economic sense.
"We wanted to show a sufficient number of people what's going
on," said Skip Wagner, president and general manager of the Oklahoma
State Fair. Officials would like to garner public support for the
renovation, which would be paid for by means of an increase in
Oklahoma City's hotel-motel tax. An exhibit at the fair targets the
The undertaking posed some challenges, however. An architect for
the renovation project wasn't chosen until mid-August, leaving
little more than three weeks to get an exhibit assembled. The
display includes the names of the three firms involved in the
renovation: Frankfurt-Short-Bruza Associates has been named as the
architect, gh2 Gralla Architects as the equestrian architect, and
Howard Fairbairn Site Design as landscape architect. All are local
The exhibit includes a two-minute video presentation created by
Frankfurt-Short-Bruza, which provides a virtual tour of what the
fairgrounds could look like after a renovation. "We wanted it to not
have so much definition that people think it's a done deal, but
enough to give an idea of what it could look like," said Wagner.
It was also a challenge to balance the need to convey how
attractive the renovation could be, while keeping it "realistic,"
said Wagner. "The last thing we want to do is give people ideas we
won't be able to meet," he said.
The computer-generated film appears to take the viewer around and
over the fairgrounds, showing what each of the buildings could look
like with the aid of some cosmetic changes and new facades. All of
the buildings would be joined by a common visual theme, a style
Wagner described as "Frank Lloyd Wright meets Oklahoma."
The colorful, 1960s-era styles that prevail now would be replaced
with natural colors and materials such as rock and brick, with a
Western Heritage feel. The names of the buildings would also be
changed to reflect Oklahoma's heritage.
One end of the building which houses the exhibit has undergone a
transformation, serving as a huge before-and-after example. While
one end of the 28,800-square-foot Kitchens of America building still
sports psychedelic stripes, the other end has been transformed into
the new Centennial building. The updated end is faced with a
material that looks like off-white concrete, with brick and stone
A large map of the fairgrounds is also included in the display. A
semi-transparent rendering of the proposed new layout overlays a map
of the fairgrounds as they are today, allowing fair-goers to more
clearly visualize what changes will be made and where.
The display also attempts to provide the public with the "big
picture" by means of two lists of the fairgrounds' biggest
attractions throughout the year. Estimated attendance and economic
impact are listed for the eight most popular shows held at the
fairgrounds each year (such as Affair of the Heart and the Oklahoma
Youth Expo), as well as a list of the top horse shows that regularly
use the fairgrounds for their events.
The Oklahoma State Fair only accounts for a little more than 600
of the 3,000 event days - a count of how many buildings are used and
for how many days - scheduled at the fairgrounds yearly. While the
fair typically generates an economic impact of about $100 million
per year, horse shows bring in $90 million, and other events and
concerts generate $20 million. …