California State Fair (Images of America)
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Starting in San Francisco in 1854, the California State Fair and Exposition began as a vehicle to showcase, encourage, and expand California's agricultural industry. It quickly became an attraction for thousands of residents, both local and from across the state. By 1884, it occupied the largest exhibit hall in the United States. Within 100 years, it became the largest fair in the country by adding horse racing, elaborate exhibits from every county in the state and from around the world, thrill rides, top-flight entertainment, and, of course, the best food. The original goal of the fair was met some 50 years ago, as California remains the nation's top producer of agricultural products.
Agriculture Hall was used for the opening ceremonies, parades, and big events like the human cannonball. This large event on September 13, 1954, featured 1,000 folk dancers celebrating the last day of the State Fair’s 100th birthday. It was yet another record-breaking attendance year. (CSH.) This c. 1955 photograph captures an enthusiastic drum majorette leading a marching band. According to the clock, it is 10:00 a.m., so it must be opening day for the fair. (CSH.) In 1957, a Marine Guard
lamps, plain and ornamental. The exhibit was awarded the Agricultural Society Special Medal and Diploma. (Sacramento Room, Sacramento Public Library.) The Sacramento County exhibit of 1895 was quite elaborate. It used an open model of the state capitol filled with examples of the agricultural products of the county. (Sacramento Room, Sacramento Public Library.) As the caption for this photograph of Fogalsang and Raplee, Electricians, states, 1895 was a big year in Sacramento: “July 13, just
to ride the state fair circuit during this period. Also shown, second from the top to the right and holding a stopwatch, is David Ahern, the Sacramento County sheriff. (CSH.) In 1912, aviator Charles Hamilton was back at the State Fair. This time, he participated in a race with Frank Ruhstaller, the well-known Sacramento brewer. This photograph captures the action as they approach the finish line. Ruhstaller appears to be leading. (CSH.) As part of the publicity for the State Fair of 1924, the
Agricultural Hall is visible behind the stands. (CSH.) A unidentified water-skier is captured in mid-jump in 1961. There were many water-skiing events in this period, some professional and others, like the cowboy water-ski contest, not quite so professional. The event was very popular, as shown by the large crowd watching from the south end of the race track. (CSH.) This 1939 pamphlet was unusual for the State Fair in that is was done in black and white, rather than color. This may have been
done as a cost-cutting measure. And it was not boasting to call it “America’s Largest Ten-Day State Fair.” Officials could easily expect well over half a million visitors during the run. (Sacramento Room, Sacramento Public Library.) Shown here is the 1947 pamphlet. Due to World War II, the fair had last been held in 1941, and the State Fair board wanted everyone to attend. This pamphlet was likely sent outside of the Sacramento area as it was sponsored by Standard Oil of California, which wanted