PARKER, Texas — The 1,300 folks fled the noise and bustle of Dallas for the tiny town of Parker, but now Southfork Ranch--setting for the "Dallas" television show--has brought Parker a fair amount of noise and bustle itself.
Every day about 2,100 tourists, outnumbering the locals 2-to-1, trek to the town by car, bus and even horseback seeking the home of the mythical Ewing family of the "Dallas" television show.
"There's been a little bit of notoriety about the town, which we want to keep quiet," said Don Seale, who moved to Parker three years before Lorimar Productions began filming "Dallas" and the antics of the wheeling and dealing J.R. Ewing.
"Some of the people who cry the loudest probably moved to the community because of Southfork," said Tom Parkman, an oilman who has lived in the town five years.
The ranch's new owner, Terry Trippet of Dallas, has plans to capitalize on Southfork's appeal.
He has built a 2,000-seat convention hall and spent about $500,000 refurbishing the house for black-tie parties.
In a strange example of life imitating art, about 2,000 people are expected to descend on the ranch June 15 to dine on beef and listen to the Oak Ridge Boys at the Cattle Barons' Ball, an annual party depicted in the television show.
Part of the mansion has been remodeled to accommodate as many as 10 guests willing to pay as much as $3,000 a night to stay there.
In the words of ranch spokeswoman Vicki Hinson-Smith: "They just want to come and sleep where J.R. slept. Some of them don't realize J.R. didn't live here."
Although many of the 250,000 people who visit Southfork annually travel through Parker to reach the ranch, only 300 square feet of the ranch's 160 acres, which have a tax appraisal value of $571,441, are in the town.
As a result, only $7.89 of the $5,302.87 in property taxes paid on Southfork went to Parker coffers.