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.
grandstand, and the midway. (CSH.) The long-standing State Fair tradition of giving your feet a rest continues at Cal Expo. Fairgoers are seen here in the new Floriculture Pavilion taking a well deserved break on the new grass in the shade of the tent. (CSH.) This is one of the many pamphlets produced to promote the new Cal Expo as “The Place to Go.” The California Exposition was originally planned to be open nearly year round, incorporating the State Fair in August and other events the rest of
San Francisco. (CSH.) This is an image of Guelph, awarded the prize for best bull in the 1859 fair. This is what hundreds of stockmen were trying to accomplish, to win a grand prize at the State Fair. Guelph’s lineage is detailed back eight generations. Besides winning the premium of about $40, the owner, S. B. Emerson, could probably be assured of making a fair amount of income from stud fees. (CSH.) In 1861, the fair was permanently located in Sacramento. One of the main proponents of this
at Agricultural Park in 1892. The members are identified on the back of the photograph. This may be in front of the grandstand as buildings and tents of the park are visible in the background. (CSH.) The size of the new hall made it possible to install larger and more grandiose exhibits. Sacramento was increasing its industrial ability, as this “Display of Light, Heat, and Power” by the Capital Gas Company in 1895 shows. They provided electric arc lights, incandescent lights, and Welsbach gas
world capable of throwing rodeo riders. The claim seems correct. (CSH.) The State Fair celebrated 100 years in 1954 with a time capsule. Governor Knight and the “Californian,” portrayed by actor Bill Meigs to represent California history, have their hands on a bomb-shaped container with 100 years of fair history inside. They are surrounded by fair officials, including fair president William P. Wright (center) and the 1954 Maid of California, Phyllis Yarwood (front). (CSH.) In 1950, California
looking down its length gives some idea of how large a structure it was. The exhibit to the right is for San Diego County, which looks to have had a very successful exhibition. (CSH.) The 1954 State Fair featured one of the largest county exhibits ever set up. Gov. Goodwin Knight and his wife wave to the crowd from the exhibit for Alameda County. The port at Alameda was one of the largest on the West Coast, where goods from around the world arrived and California’s exports to the world were