By Kelline Linton, Chief Copy Editor
Although Play Faire Park is closed for the season, it will again open its gates beginning March 6, just in time for Spring Break.
Play Faire, which has been operating since 1947, is one of the oldest miniature golf courses in Texas. With its concrete rails, slow turning Ferris wheel and antique wagon wheel, the park defines an old school charm, which has made it an entertainment landmark for the ACU student body.
“It’s not new and shiny and fancy with bells and flashing lights,” said the park’s owner Chris “Doc” England. “It’s the exact opposite. It’s kinda low key and chill.”
The park’s stage for live music, two putt putt golf courses and cheap discounts make it popular with students.
“I like how it is old-timey, kind of classic, rundown and cheap,” said Jacob Groves, freshman Bible major from Lubbock. “And the windmill is always fun.”
When the Abilene Reporter-News reported in early December that the park was in dire straights, the community of Abilene rallied together to prevent its closure.
“Last year was a difficult year for us. I don’t think it was the economy but rather a change in what people did in their leisure time,” England said.
To combat financial troubles, England offered season passes and sponsorships for the 36 golf holes for the first time since he bought the park in 1994.
He said already one golf course is completely sponsored and he is about a quarter of the way to his monetary goals. England said social clubs and school organizations are welcome to sponsor holes for the full 2009 season. Each hole cost $350, and the sponsors’ business logo would be displayed prominently at their chosen hole. Season passes also are available and cost $35 per student or $45 per adult.
England wants to use the extra funds for some much needed improvements and renovations. He will convert the club house into a snack bar, which will give the park an additional source of income. He also will redo the stage, enlarging and covering it.
“This way bands can play during the day and not cook in the heat,” England said. “This will give us more flexibility for the bands’ schedules.”
Several other renovations include redoing some of the older golf holes and adding a small game room to the park.
“I feel very good about business now,” England said. “This is the 62nd season. I don’t want to ever see that stop.”