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1899 State Fair of Texas

October 23, 2008

The State Fair of Texas, which takes place for three weeks during September and October each year in Dallas’ Fair Park, ended this past weekend. The event attracts a huge number of visitors and has an economic impact in Dallas of about $350 million each year.

The State Fair began in 1886 as the Dallas State Fair and Exposition. For more details on the history of the State Fair of Texas, click here. The library’s Ephemera Collection contains the program for the 1899 Fair, donated to the library by Edith White. The program includes descriptions of several exhibits and photographs from the fair grounds as well as a rundown of special days during the Fair, such as Texas Day, Confederate Day, Press Day, A&M College Day, Shriner’s Day, etc.

In addition, two notable events happened at the 1899 Fair. First, the National Democratic Carnival was a gathering for Democratic leaders to address political issues. One prominent Democrat in attendance was William Jennings Bryan, the Democratic nominee for President in 1900.

Second, the Grand Pageant of the Grand Orders of the Kaliphs was set up by liquor wholesaler Charles Mangold. According to Nancy Wiley in her book, The Great State Fair of Texas, the event “had been organized to present a gala civic entertainment along Mardi Gras lines. The three-day program would take place during the fair and include a welcome for the ceremonial Kaliph of Baghdad, a nighttime parade of illuminated floats through downtown and a grand ball that promised to rival any existing social event in the state.”

The following images are from the 1899 program. Click on the images for a larger view.

Click here for a full citation of the documents and images included in this entry.

Cover of the 1899 program for the State Fair.

Cover of the 1899 program for the State Fair.

An exhibit from a San Antonio ostrich farm.

An exhibit from a San Antonio ostrich farm.

Photographs of the State Fair Grounds.

Photographs of the State Fair Grounds.

The Grand Pageant of the Grand Order of the Kaliphs was meant to be a Mardi Gras-like celebration.

The Grand Pageant of the Grand Order of the Kaliphs was meant to be a Mardi Gras-like celebration.

Democratic Carnival Day featured William Jennings Bryan as its main speaker.

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