The Fair in Wartime

Patriotism was stressed during the World War I years. Historical pageants shared the stage with battle reenactments complete with fireworks simulating enemy fire. Souvenirs, premium lists, and posters all urged duty paired with pleasure. “Red Cross/Patriotic Day” was proclaimed; a special one day appearance of a military biplane encouraged attendance. A percentage of the proceeds were donated to that worthy cause.

The Fair proclaimed 1918 “War Service Year in Missouri,” and showcased “The World At War,” a pageant recreating an urban battle zone and dramatizing the plight of American soldiers. The centerpiece of the 1919 Victory State Fair was an awesome array of war machines--tanks, airplanes, machine guns, anti-aircraft guns, torpedoes, grenades, mines, and armored automobiles, some of them captured from Germany.

State Fair Premium Book, 1917.
Missouri State Archives

Poster advertising the nightly reenactment of the Battle of St. Mihiel.
Missouri State Archives

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