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What was the first Los Angeles County Fair like in 1922? – Daily Bulletin

Signs in LA County Fair – which starts its last week on Thursday and ends on May 30 – remind visitors that this is the centenary of the fair and that the fair started in 1922. And that may make you wonder: how was the fair in 1922?

Was there a 1920s version of weird honest food? (I’m imagining Salisbury steak fried on a stick.) Did the exciting trips force you to wear your fedora or your coat?

Also, I wonder if there have been nostalgic acts of concerts. I photograph washed bands performing their big hit from the 1890s.

Let me try to answer these questions, with the help of 1922 newspaper clippings drawn for me by Allan Lagumbay of the Pomona Public Library and a 2012 column by my history colleague Joe Blackstock for the first fair.

Let me set the scene. Pomona traders looking for ways to strengthen their city realized that there was no Los Angeles County Fair. Rushing to fill a void, they decided to arrange one. The hair raising part should have done this within a few months.

The original grandstand and racetrack are under construction in this photo before the Los Angeles County Fair debuted on October 17, 1922. The fair is now marking its centenary and ends May 30. (Courtesy Special Collections and Archives, Cal Poly Pomona)

The fair association was established in April, 40 acres of beet and barley fields north of Ganesha Park were purchased in July, construction on a grandstand, racetrack and barn began in August and the fair was ready to start on 17 October. Wheee!

The Southern California Fair had just ended in Riverside when the Pomona Fair opened. The five-day event took place from Tuesday to Saturday, October 17-21. The excitement was high. Hotels packed with miles around, including Avis, today Mayfair Apartmentsdowntown Pomona.

The first morning, 200 people were waiting to enter when the fair opened at 10:00 p.m. Children entered for free that day and most schools in the area were simply closed. Cars parked at the fair and along the sides of local roads. If you would like to take public transport, you can get on the Pacific Electric cart via a new incentive line to the fairgrounds.

The music was provided by the Pomona Municipal Band, a forerunner of the Pomona Concert Band. Vaudeville entertainers did their acts. Lumberjack Charley was one. Another was Miss Edythe Sterling and her trained horse.

To my knowledge, the perennial fair of modern days, War, did not perform. If he had, the band could have sung “Low Knight” about a sitting buggy.

The first plane in the upper left corner of this photo was one of the entertainments at the 1922 Los Angeles County Fair, which occupied a 40-acre area in Pomona. This year the fair is marking its centenary and ends on May 30th. (Courtesy Fairplex)
The first plane in the upper left corner of this photo was one of the entertainments at the 1922 Los Angeles County Fair, which occupied a 40-acre area in Pomona. This year the fair is marking its centenary and ends on May 30th. (Courtesy Fairplex)

Some entertainment took place in the air, courtesy of stunt exhibits and winged walks. Horse racing and wheelchair racing took place on the new track.

Midway was the work of Snapp Bros. Consolidated Shows. A photo shows a carousel and a Ferris wheel that looks no more than 30 feet high, something you will see today at a carnival.

The city, according to Pomona Progress, banned “booths where things were won by chance”. So much for earning a stuffed animal for your meeting.

Speaking of which, cattle, which returned in 2022, was large in 1922, Pomona and LA County were predominantly agricultural. Pigs, cattle, goats, sheep, and horses were judged, and the exhibits included rabbits, guinea pigs, and poultry.

Also, about 1000 pigeons. Pomona Bulletin reported that the fair would be “the largest pigeon show ever held in the west”. Let’s not stop cleaning.

Three pigeons that served in World War I were special guests. They did not escape the battle unscathed, though they left the fair without deep frying.

“One of the heroic birds has one foot shot, the other is minus one eye,” the Bulletin wrote, “and the third has a record of 53 messages carried in the trenches.”

Did the birds say “thank you for the service” to the fair and then offer to pay for their food?

A view of the Los Angeles County Inaugural Fair, which took place October 17-21, 1922 in Pomona and attracted 50,000. Most of the activities took place in tents; only later were buildings erected. The fair is now marking its centenary and ends on May 30th. (Courtesy Special Collections and Archives, Cal Poly Pomona
A view of the Los Angeles County Inaugural Fair, which took place October 17-21, 1922 in Pomona and attracted 50,000. Most of the activities took place in tents; only later were buildings erected. The fair is now marking its centenary and ends on May 30th. (Courtesy Special Collections and Archives, Cal Poly Pomona

On the topic of food, the first fair had 115 concessionaires. There was not Chicken Charlie, Bubba’s BBQ or other popular foods selling giant turkey legs or crazy stunt food. Instead there were small operators or service clubs with household items.

or The history of KCET for the centenary says at the first fair, “the women of the club served minced meat pies, pickled nuts, chips and a homemade drink called Ebell Zip.”

The bulletin did not go into detail about the offers, but wrote that you can buy – pay attention here – “food, drinks, popcorn, candy and other indigestible foods”.

Since the Bulletin was promoting the fair, either the writer was being shown to be cheeky or he or she meant “preparation”, a fancy word for food items. But the “undead” may have been closer to the truth.

Were there any demonstration booths? Certainly not. But I like to think that some entrepreneur was selling a carpet beater with a contoured handle (“As seen in the newspaper!”), Or a “Miracle” promising that you could get your butter out in half the time.

Pomona had never seen an influx of people like the first fair, which attracted 50,000 people. Banners were hung on poles in the city center, where a large number of American flags, about 2,500, were waved.

The main crawl, Second Street, without signs and banners of all kinds, leading to “a real forest of colors,” the Bulletin wrote. Today this would lead to a real storm of code enforcement citations.

This crazy quilt effect inspired a Second Coming style headline at the top of the Bulletin front page: “City Riot of Color for Fair Opening.” This is anti-climatic, though every title that starts “City Riot” has a lot to say about it.

There were no real riots, as far as I knew, but plainclothes cops roamed the field to observe pickpockets and the like.

And the police asked the Pomonans attending the fair to take a precaution before leaving the house: close the doors. Readers, please note this innovative anti-crime tip.

What was the first Los Angeles County Fair like in 1922? – Daily Bulletin Source link What was the first Los Angeles County Fair like in 1922? – Daily Bulletin

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