Sunday, October 29, 2017

Scrapbook #3 – 1914 Governor’s Day

Before I start, I have to say that I hate my cr*ppy memory!  Geez, I know I’ve seen this picture before but for the life of me, I can’t remember where.  And I don’t have the patience to look thoroughly so if I’ve shared this before, I apologize.

Now that I have that out of the way, the next page of the scrapbook showed me this from The Fresno Bee, Thursday, October 1, 1953, page 5-A.

Governors Day 1914 Fresno Bee 10_1_1953
EARLY DAY EVENT – Governor’s Day at the Fresno District Fair was quite an event in 1914.  Shown left to right in the grandstand are the late Frank Hill, Mayor Alva E. Snow, J.E. Dickenson, Governor Hiram C. Johnson, George H. Warlow, H. Wingate Lake, William Stranahan and H.E. Patterson and Sigmund Levy.

ExFair Director Recalls Governor’s Day Celebration

Governor’s Day at the Fresno District Fair in 1914 was recalled today by Sigmund Levy, a Fresno real estate and insurance man who was the fair’s director of exploitation from 1914 to 1918.

“I can remember it as though it were yesterday,” Levy said.  “We needed a lot of help in those days to put over the fair.  The governor drew a larage crowd.”

Levy has a photograph taken in the grandstand that day.  In the picture are the late Governor Hiram C. Johnson, Mayor Alva E. Snow, Frank Hill of the Fresno Traffic Association, J.E. Dickenson, the fair director; George H. Warlow, the fair president; H. Wingate Lake, a hotel manager; William Stranahan, Fresno public works commissioner, and H.E. Patterson of the Fresno County Chamber of Commerce and Levy.

Levy declared the exhibits at more recent fairs were similar to those in 1914.  Each night a dance carnival was held in those days.

“It really packed them in,” he said.

C.G. Eberhart, a retired vineyardist who was the fair manager from 1911 to 1920, recalled one of the big features of the fair 32 years ago was a “train wreck” which drew an attendance of more than 25,000 persons.

Eberhart said two old locomotives, purchased from the Santa Fe Railway, were started from opposite ends of the infield, but many of the spectators decided the seeing was not nearly as thrilling as the anticipation of the collision.

“The grandstand was jammed,” he declared.  “There was a hush among the spectators as the locomotives approached.  Bombs on the engines enveloped them in clouds of smoke as they came together with a deafening crash.

He inaugurated the initial five gaited saddle show ring for purebreds during his first year as manager and said the fair boasted three of the fastest harness horses in the United States, trained by Billy Durfy and owned by Clarence Berry of Fresno. 

One more Fresno event my grandfather was involved in.  Who knew?


  1. Director of exploitation!? What do you think that meant?

  2. "Exploitation" must have had a different connotation.

  3. I was able to find a definition of Director of Exploitation from 1904. "Shall have charge of all matters pertaining to the promotion of interest or participation in the Exposition, upon the part of either exhibitors or visitors, at home or abroad." Not nearly as exciting as what our imaginations could conjure up. :-)