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The San Antonio International Fair

July 1, 2013

San Antonio International Fair, Oct. 31 to Nov. 11, 1906. [Broadside]. UTSA Libraries Special Collections

San Antonio International Fair (1906). UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

San Antonio is now famous as the Fiesta City, but long before the Battle of the Flowers became nationally known or HemisFair ’68 re-shaped the Downtown, San Antonio played host to other festivals and expositions. One of these was the San Antonio International Fair. This exposition and livestock show was held annually during October or November from 1888-1911.

Like the World’s Fairs and other expositions held in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the San Antonio International Fair offered a display of the latest in business and technology. An 1899 description praised it as being “as fine a line of exhibits from mills and factories as was ever shown at any fair south of St. Louis.”[1] Truck farmers and fruit growers also displayed their accomplishments, and a 1906 description mentions  Ladies’ art, and floral departments as well.[2]

The heart of the fair, however, was the livestock exhibition. In 1906, livestock exhibitors competed for prizes adding up to $12,500. Taking inflation into account, that’s more than $300,000!  Additionally, the American Angora Goat Breeders’ Association added an additional $200 to the prizes available to registered Angora goats. [3]

Special Collections holds a large two-sided broadside highlighting attractions at the 1906 San Antonio International Fair, calling it “The one big Annual Event that stands in a Class by Itself. Enlarged this year in Every Department.”

Those “enlargements” cover not only the live stock show,but also “High-Class Races” featuring “Big Purses and a large string of noted ‘Steppers’ and ‘Bang-Tails,’” fire works, a prize fighting exhibition, and the latest in medical innovations – an infant incubator exhibit.

San Antonio International Fair, Oct. 31 to Nov. 11, 1906. [Broadside]. UTSA Libraries Special Collections

San Antonio International Fair, Oct. 31 to Nov. 11, 1906. [Broadside]. UTSA Libraries Special Collections

Earning its “International” name, the broadside for the Fair also promotes the presence of the Grand Military Band of Mexico in the “Superb Government Exhibit.”

Some of the special events listed on the back of the broadside include Governor’s Day on Wednesday, Oct. 31st, a Basket Ball Game on Thursday November 1st, foot-ball games on Wednesday the 7th and Thursday the 8th, and a type of singing contest called a Saengerfest on Sunday, Nov. 11th.

In the time before family automobiles became commonplace, fair goers would have arrived by foot, by horse or carriage, or by train. This broadside promotes the International & Great Northern Rail Road and provides train fares ranging from $1.50 to $2.25 from Austin, Laredo, Taylor, Cotulla and numerous other points of origin throughout Central and South Texas.

This broadside has been digitized and may be viewed in our Digital Collections.

[1] “The San Antonio Fair,Medical Insurance 15 (1899-1900): 110-111, accessed June 19, 2013.

[2] “International Fair Premium List,” Practical Medicine and Surgery 16 (1906): 560, accessed June 19, 2013.

[3] sic.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Molly Hefner permalink
    February 17, 2014 12:14 pm

    Thanks for posting this. I have a stock certificate for one share of the “Capital Stock of the San Antonio International Fair Association” owned by Charles Heuermann, my great-grandfather, and signed by Sam Maverick, Treasurer, and William Heuermann, acting President (my great-great-grandfather). I’ve always wondered what it was about.

  2. February 27, 2016 6:11 pm

    Thank you for the info, I have a San Antonio International Fair, Nov. 18 to Nov. 29, 1905 postcard showing the Swift & Co. Prize Draft Team. Sent to Mrs. V.D. Stewart by her daughter, Francis. Said she had Thanksgiving dinner with a prize watermelon for desert.

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