Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Here's To The Fair


State and county fairs have been organized in the United States since 1841, when the first such gathering was organized in Syracuse, New York. Food — both its production and enjoyment — has been their centerpiece from the very beginning. The judging of livestock in the U.S. dates to the 19th century.
(click on photos to enlarge)
Credit for the idea of the state fair is often given to Elkanah Watson, a wealthy New England farmer and businessman who showcased his sheep in the public square of Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1807. Recipe judging is one of the oldest kinds of competition at the fairs, dating to the early 1800s. Butter sculptures, introduced initially by the dairy industry to promote its product, date to 1903.

The Tulsa County Free Fair began in 1903 at the Western Association baseball park at Archer and Boston. As you can see, horse racing was very popular. This postcard, postmarked June 20, 1909 is inscribed with “Fastest race ever run in the southwest, Tulsa 5/29/09 Maud G.” Maud won her owner $1,000 in this race. In 1913, a 16-acre tract of land north of Lewis and Admiral was purchased to provide more suitable grounds when Tulsa landed the International Dry Farming Congress that brought agriculturalists from all over the world. It, too, had a horse track.The Tulsa racetrack came under martial law on April 15, 1917. The governor sent National Guard troops to the racetrack at the Tulsa Fairgrounds on North Lewis, to stop illegal gambling.
Street fairs and carnivals were not a new thing to Tulsa.  

In 1923, thanks to a land donation from J.E. Crosbie, the fair was moved to a portion of the present Expo Square between 15th and 21st Streets.
Passage of a major bond issue of $500,000 provided for the construction of the Art Deco Pavilion in 1931.

Looking east at the Tulsa State Fairgrounds in the 1930s (below). The fairgrounds bordered by Louisville on the west, Yale on the east, 15th and 21st Streets on north and south. The new arena building is at the lower left. The racetrack and stands are at the top. In 1935 the fair went from a county “free fair” to “state fair” status.
Exhibit halls were built to house displays of handicrafts, needlework, canned goods, and other practical arts relating to the home. The midway began to intertwine with carnival shows previously seen with circus shows. Rides, new inventions and oddities became popular.
Here is a 4-room house made in a tree trunk. Interesting.

Or was it...?
The International Petroleum Exposition (IPE) complex was opened in 1966. At the time it was the largest building under one roof. The Tulsa Driller was also permanently installed there at this time. You can even see the old Zingo in this photo:
The midway as I remember it when I was a small kid:
And last: this is a personal photo from around 1973 of my sisters and I having too much fun on a midway ride. This photo was taken by (and published in) the Tulsa World:

*Tulsa TV Memories has the actual Tulsa State Fair theme I am referring to in my title. Click right under the fantastic 1965 fair ticket to listen to Here's To The Fair!
credits: exposquare.com, time.com and okstate.edu

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Akdar Theatre/Cimarron Ballroom

Look what I found at an antique store last month:

Love these candid street scenes. These were both taken in the same place and seem to be showing the difference between the sizes of the streetcars.
Written on this one: One of the Modernized & Double Truck cars of the United Service Company of Tulsa, Okla. The date stamped on the back of these is JAN 1931. And you can see the sign on the front of both streetcars advertising "No No Nanette" showing at the Akdar Theater.

Construction on the Akdar Theater began in the oil boom days. (click on photos to enlarge)

It was located at 221 W 4th (4th and Denver) where the bus station now resides. The building was designed by Rapp & Rapp. The sign on the front is for Marland Oil.

The Akdar opened Feb. 1, 1925 with an audience of 1,800 who saw the Ziegfeld musical comedy "Sally." The Akdar showed movies as well as "first class acts". What a beautiful, ornate theater. Check out the murals and the detail.

The Tulsa Civic Symphony (later the Tulsa Philharmonic) premiered at the Akdar in 1927.

These are the balcony seats:
By the early 1950's, the Akdar had been sold and it's name was changed to the Cimarron Ballroom. The seats on the ground floor were removed. Soundboards covered the beautiful fresco's and the sloped orchestra section was made level with a rock maple dance floor. Here are photos taken at various events showing the ballroom:
A view from the stage:

(looks like a big Conga line going here)

Looking northeast across 4th & Denver at the Akdar Temple Building in 1952. KRMG Radio Station is located on the first floor.

Leon McAuliffe and his Cimarron Boys called the Cimarron home. Leon was the former steel guitar player for Bob Wills.

July 29, 1961 Patsy Cline returned to the stage- the Cimarron Ballroom stage in particular -just 6 weeks after she had nearly died in a car accident. She was backed by Leon McAuliffe and his western swing band and performed to a 2,200-seat packed house. The show was recorded and released on CD in 1997. You can read more about it here

The wonderful Akdar/Cimarron was torn down in 1973.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

This Week In Tulsa - 1948

I'm not going to make this one into a series; instead I'll just upload all of the little booklet and let you read and look. Enjoy. (click on photos to enlarge)

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Downtowner: Conclusion

Ah, the Hotel Tulsa. I wrote a little about this historic hotel that once sat at 3rd and Cincinnati awhile back (click here to read more). The hotel closed in 1962 and was demolished 10 yrs later.

Dale’s Orange Juice was next door to Crown Drug Store on 4th and Main- on the far right in this photo:
Pride’s Cafeteria (left side) at 3rd and Main was a Tulsa favorite for many years.
When I started this series, a great music master had just passed away. Here is where I want you to start reading the text, beginning with “We’re closin’ off this week…..”


I thought this was great and ironic, the timing of it all, that Les Paul was being recognized at this time in 1947 for his innovative sound.

Frank’s Pig Stand at 15th and Boston was very popular and very good, I’m told.

And Holly’s was another very popular downtown clothing store.

I remember going “window shopping” with my Mom downtown as a child, looking at the sparkling sidewalks, jumping over those grates in the concrete (and wondering what was down there, anyway?) I also remember the downtown Christmas parades, when they were held in the daytime. My dad would secure a window in a friend’s office for us to look out of and watch it. Isn’t this a great photo with the TU Marching Band leading the Christmas parade in 1949?
I came along at the tail-end of this Downtown era. Here’s to a new one!