The Coast News Group

Fairs can be fun and educational as well

DEL MAR — Folks go to fairs for different reasons. There are those who attend to shatter their diets gorging on such eats as chocolate covered bacon. Others challenge the newest, most spectacular diversions that leave you wanting to heave the chocolate covered bacon you just enjoyed. The livestock areas command a good share of attendees. Del Mar has a flower and garden show that is second to none and visitors spend their time there to get ideas for their home gardens.
Fairs also are the place to learn about new products. The telephone, sewing machine, and typewriter all were featured first at a fair.
In 1867, at the Paris world’s fair, aluminum, natural gas heat and the ice cream soda were introduced to the public. At the 1901 fair in Buffalo, N.Y., electric energy was powered by Niagara Falls.
George Washington Ferris built the first Ferris wheel for the Columbian Exposition in St. Louis Missouri in 1893. However, it was so large and bulky it could not be moved after the fair. Almost every midway today includes a Ferris wheel.
The 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago featured Sally Rand and her famous white fans. Thousands of spectators were drawn to her hoping to sneak a peek behind the fans.
The late Dave Barham of Solana Beach launched a multimillion dollar business at the County Fair in Del Mar in 1946 when he introduced Hot Dog On A Stick. Today, it and fresh lemonade are sold at major fairs and shopping malls throughout the country. An astute marketer, Barham hired queen candidates and outfitted them in colorful, stripped uniforms. His stands also are flashy and bright.
Pet rocks, hula hoops and Frisbees first were sold in large quantities at the Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona in the early 1980s. The hula hoops were reported to have originated in Australia.
Merchandise of every description is demonstrated at a fair. Some of it will become a household product.