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Fair Park hosts good eats, great community gathering with MLK Food Park

The MLK Food Park opened across from Leonhardt Lagoon from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m on Sunday and will return on July 10, July 24 and July 31.

Rico Alexander
Rico Alexander, left, and 6-year-old Josiah Alexander take a break from working in the HopeBoy’s Kitchen food truck to eat some Burris vegan tacos during the MLK Food Park event at Fair Park in Dallas, TX, on Jun 26, 2022. (Jason Janik/Special Contributor)(Jason Janik / Special Contributor)

By Sriya Reddy

Complete with dessert food trucks, live music and entertainment, and now, the expansive green space of fairgrounds, the MLK Food Park has returned to South Dallas at its latest location at Fair Park.

Urban planning organizations Better Block and Do Right By The Streets collaborated to create the food park as a way to bring South Dallas residents together.

The MLK Food Park opened across from Leonhardt Lagoon from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m on Sunday. The market will return on July 10, July 24 and July 31.

“The food trucks are like a tip of the iceberg as far as what the effect of it is,” said Desiree Powell, executive director of Do Right By The Streets. “It’s that South Dallas, primarily home to Black residents, Black families, Black communities, hasn’t had a sense of gathering just to be gathering.”

The goal is also to support local, primarily Black-owned businesses to “reach a wider audience and connect some of these businesses to the resources that are in South Dallas and the nonprofits and groups that have been doing work for eons,” Powell said.

Better Block began the project in April 2021 at a parking lot off of Martin Luther King Jr. Street and Do Right By The Streets joined shortly thereafter. Powell said that previously the food park was surrounded by concrete. Now, at Fair Park, where they have more space, it will be surrounded by grass.

Organizers hope the Fair Park events will be a first step toward creating a permanent space for the food park and expanding their vision to offer a safe space in South Dallas.

Fair Park is hoping to create connections with the South Dallas community not only with this food park, but also its Community Park, with new trails, a parking garage, and green space doubled in size.

“With the new Community Park coming to Fair Park in 2024, the MLK Food Park provides another placemaking opportunity that supports South Dallas businesses and creates new connections with the community,” Alyssa Arnold, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Fair Park First, said in a news release.

“This partnership really helps create better relationships and start to build that trust back of those residents that were possibly displaced by the construction of Fair Park, but now, it is really home and residents can utilize the park spaces,” Powell said.

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