Expo Square

 

History

The Tulsa County Free Fair began in 1903 at the Western Association baseball park at Archer and Boston. With enactment of the Oklahoma Free Fair Act in 1915, a 15-acre tract of land north of Archer and Lewis was purchased to provide more suitable grounds. In 1923, thanks to a land donation from J.E. Crosbie, the fair was moved to a portion of the present Expo Square between 15th and 21st Streets. Passage of a major bond issue of $500,000 provided for the construction of the Pavilion in 1931. The fair board acquired land adjacent to the gift acreage in later years, and the "state fair" was born. 

Funded by a 1966 $3.5 million bond issue, the 446,400 square foot Exposition Center was completed and became home to the International Petroleum Exposition, until the "oil bust" in 1980. The Golden Driller was added as a symbol of the IPE in 1966. Weighing 43,500 pounds and standing 76 feet tall, the Golden Driller has become the symbol of Expo Square.

During the 1970's, marketing of the facilities for year-round usage was begun, and the fairgrounds was renamed Expo Square. Improvements during that time period included construction of the North Arena, improvements in the Pavilion, air conditioning of the Pavilion and River Spirit Expo, and construction of the 13,000+ seat grandstand complex.

In 1983 the Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority was created to include a five member board comprised of three Tulsa County commissioners and two at-large members. Funded by a Tulsa County excise tax and facility user fees, $21 million in improvements have been accomplished in Phase I of the improvement program including a new Livestock Arena, total renovation of the historic Pavilion, a new stalling barn, and extensive landscaping.

 Completed in 2008, Phase II of the improvement program was funded by a Tulsa County sales tax and included replacement of livestock barns, improvements to the River Spirit Expo, parking and landscaping enhancement.