Thursday, August 18, 2016

County Fairs & World Fairs and Expos

Chicago World's Fair - 1893

Did you go to a county fair this summer? Maybe not. But in the "Gay Nineties," the years from 1890-1899, millions of Americans did attend county fairs and world's fairs. Fairs were extravaganzas of that time period. They were rich in economic, artistic and intellectual resources. A peek into the future.

Today there are many other events for our entertainment and pleasure, but there was really no competition at that time so people flocked to the fairs. Between Reconstruction and World War I, (1876-1916) there were twelve international expositions in America: Atlanta, Philadelphia, San Diego, New Orleans, Portland, Saint Louis, Nashville, Seattle, Omaha, Buffalo, and San Francisco all hosted fairs.

The first world's fair was held in London at the famous Crystal Palace. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert sponsored it as an experiment. Could an international exposition stimulate new inventions, world commerce and manufacturing processes in industry? Yes, indeed. Two years later the United States hosted its own world's fair - it was held in New York. It covered 13 acres and cost almost $750,000. Nearly a million and a half people attended. It was so successful at promoting international trade and technological advances that many future fairs and international expos were scheduled.

The most talked about fair of the Gay Nineties was held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus's discovery of America. The theme of Chicago's World's Columbian Exposition was electricity. President Grover Cleveland opened the fair by pushing a button from the White House and 1,000 miles away, the electricity was turned on in Chicago at the fairgrounds.

Twenty-one million people attended. Edison's light bulb, Tesla's electric coil and other electrical inventions were on display. Westinghouse Electric Corporation lit the fair.

"Expositions are the timekeepers of progress. They record the world's advancement. They stimulate the intellect of the people and quicken human genius," said President William McKinley, shortly before his assassination at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition at Buffalo.


Chicago's World Fair 1893

In 1984, the World Expo was held at New Orleans, Louisiana. Hubby and I were in NOLA at the time and did go. I don't remember a whole lot about it other than it was crowded and hot. I remember there was quite a controversy over the mermaids welcoming you at the front gate. See for yourself! We did enjoy our trip to New Orleans. We didn't go specifically to go to the fair. Hubby had completed a job over  $1 million under budget so he was given the trip as an "atta boy" so to speak. I got to go if we paid any extra for the airline ticket and for my own meals, etc. We just happened to have extra money right then (divine intervention?) so I got to go. I will always remember it!

New Orleans World Fair

I had my first (and last) mint julep there. It was nothing like I expected. Syrupy sweet. 

Anyway, that's all for tonight and for fairs and expos. I think we should have gone to the Tillamook County Fair this year but the timing was off - didn't fit into our schedule. Maybe next year.

Ta ta for now,
Nancy

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