Tag Archive | Events/Festivals

Don’t forget your Texas FolkLife Festival tickets!

Advance tickets also available at HEB Stores, Ft. Sam Houston, Lackland AFB, Randolph AFB and the ITC Store and online at texasfolklifefestival.org until June 7th.
Tickets to this weekend’s festival can also be purchased HERE!

Other Festival Info



Object: Postcards


EX2014.4.1 a-f
HemisFair’68 Postcards
San Antonio, Texas
Materials: Paper and Ink

Mini-monorail at HemisFair. Image via UTSA Special Collections, Digital Identifier CD # 853 ; 108-0183.tif.

Mini-monorail at HemisFair. Image via UTSA Special Collections, Digital Identifier CD # 853 ; 108-0183.tif.

These six postcards were produced for HemisFair’68. The first postcard, top left hand corner, is a picture of the food from around the world. Many varieties of international foods were served in cool outdoor plazas, and fine dining restaurants throughout the park. Food, while always an important part of any World’s Fair experience, recently took center stage at the 2015 Milan World’s Fair. While HemisFair’s theme was a “Confluence of Civilizations in the Americas,Expo Milan was focused on how to feed an ever growing world population with the theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.”

The second post card, under the previous one, is the scene of the fabulous 92.6 acres of HemisFair’68. Visitors were able to explore the park in gondolas and Mexican flower boats, a mini-monorail system, a Swiss sky ride, and elevated walkways—each afforded a distinctive perspective on the 1968 World’s Fair. Today, San Antonio is considering revisiting the sky ride and monorail idea in order to make the city more accessible to pedestrians and help to revitalize the Broadway corridor. This potential project, proposed by a UTSA college of architecture team, “1000 Parks and a Line in the Sky: Broadway, Avenue of the Future” is also currently being featured as an exhibit at the Institute of Texan Cultures.

The next postcard shows the blending of old and new. There were historic 19th century mansions that were restored and used by the exhibitors as shops and restaurants. Prior to the construction of HemisFair park, the area was a residential neighborhood. Most of the buildings were demolished in order to make way for the fair attractions and pavilions, but a few of the historic buildings were preserved by the San Antonio Conservation Society and used at the fair.

The postcard in the top right hand corner, is a picture of the State of Texas Pavilion. This was the largest pavilion at HemisFair’68 and is now the home of the Institute of Texan Cultures. Today, the museum pursues a mandate as the state’s center for multicultural education by investigating the ethnic and cultural history of the state and presenting the resulting information with a variety of offerings, including this blog, with a mission to give voice to the experiences of people from across the globe who call Texas home, providing insight into the past, present and future.

William Cameron Fountain Image via UTSA Special Collections Library, Digital Identifier CD # 840 ; 108-0090.tif.

William Cameron Fountain Image via UTSA Special Collections Library, Digital Identifier CD # 840 ; 108-0090.tif.

The following postcard, directly underneath the previous one, is a picture of the Canadian Pavilion at night. Inside this pavilion, visitors walked over recreations of the Canadian waterways and viewed examples of the country’s sculptures, paintings, and history. The last postcard is a picture of the William Cameron Fountain in front of the Italian Pavilion. This fountain was designed like a dandelion and donated by Flora Cameron Kampmann and the KAMKO Foundation. Many countries hosted pavilions at HemisFair, each highlighting the cultural, artistic, and technological achievements of their nations.

[Adriana Christian edited by Joscelynn Garcia]

Additional Resources:

Beagle, Gail, Phillip D. Hardberger, Lila Cockrell, and Robert W. Rydell. The Anatomy of Legislation Making HemisFair ’68 a World’s Fair. [Universal City, Tex.]: A to Z Media Productions, 2008.

Freymann, Carlos. “Interview with Carlos Freymann, 1979.” Interview by Ester G. MacMillan. UTSA Libraries Digital Collections. University of Texas at San Antonio, n.d. Web. 19 July 2016. http://digital.utsa.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/p15125coll4/id/340/rec/28

Perry, Joseph A. “Interview with Joseph A. Perry, 1984.” Interview by Ester G. MacMillan. UTSA Libraries Digital Collections. University of Texas at San Antonio, n.d. Web. 19 July 2016. http://digital.utsa.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/p15125coll4/id/723/rec/9

Sinkin, William. “Interview with William Sinkin, 1995.” Interview by Sterlin Holmesly. UTSA Libraries Digital Collections. University of Texas at San Antonio, n.d. Web. 19 July 2016. http://digital.utsa.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/p15125coll4/id/410/rec/6

Object: Decanter

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HemisFair 68 Jim Beam Decanter Souvenir
San Antonio, Texas
Materials: Ceramic and Paint

This object is a souvenir Jim Beam decanter commemorating the HemisFair of 1968. A decanter is a decorative ceramic or glass bottle, with a stopper, used to store alcohol. This Jim Beam decanter has the Tower of Americas and part of the state of Texas and its landscape sculpted into the shape of a decanter. The Tower of the Americas is a famous landmark in San Antonio, TX dating back to HemisFair of 1968. This decanter was mass-produced by Regal China Co., and sold during HemisFair, as a cross-promotion for the James B. Beam Distilling Co..

The HemisFair was a World’s Fair that was held from April 6, 1968 to October 6, 1968, in San Antonio, Texas. HemisFair welcomed over thirty nations and six million visitors. The Tower of the Americas was built especially for HemisFair, and was completed just days before the start of the fair. The tower measures 622 feet tall from ground to the highest architectural element, with the observation floor at 579 feet, making it the 29th tallest building in the state of Texas. It was the tallest observation tower in the United States until 1997, when the Stratosphere Tower was built in Las Vegas.

Blueprint of the Eiffel Tower by one of its main engineers, Maurice Koechlin (ca. 1884). Image via Wikimedia Commons

Blueprint of the Eiffel Tower by one of its main engineers, Maurice Koechlin (ca. 1884). Image via Wikimedia Commons

Observation towers have been associated with several World Fair venues. The 1889 Paris World’s Fair commemorated the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution, and included the construction of the now world-famous Eiffel Tower. Built by Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel‘s construction company, Eiffel et Compagnie, and largely based off designs by Maurice Koechlin. Observation towers were also built for the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle, the 1964 New York World’s Fair, the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville, and others. [Adriana Christian, edited by Joscelynn Garcia]

Additional Resources:

Hodges, Justine. Tower of the Americas: Guidebook. San Antonio [Tex.]: Edward O. Goetz, 1968.

Holmesly, Sterlin. Hemisfair ’68 and the Transformation of San Antonio. 2003.

Lemoine, Bertrand. The Eiffel Tower. Cologne: Taschen GmbH, 2008.

Wallace, Thomas M. 2016. “The Tallest Buildings In The World”. The Civil Engineering Blog: Being Brunel. 2016-05.

Object: Cup

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HemisFair ’68 Cup
San Antonio, Texas
Materials: Glass

This object is a glass souvenir cup with the scene of the Convention Center and Tower of the Americas printed on it to represent HemisFair ’68. HemisFair ’68 was the World’s Fair held in San Antonio, Texas from April 6th to October 6th 1968. The fair’s theme was “The Confluence of Civilizations in the Americas” and celebrated the multiple nationalities settled in Texas. It coincided with the 250th anniversary of the founding of San Antonio which was one of the first major cities established in Texas.

Crystal Palace Exhibit in London

Crystal Palace Exhibit in London Image via: http://www.britannica.com

The World’s Fair is an international exhibit that generally lasts three to six months. It includes industrial, scientific, and cultural items as well as entertainment in the form or rides, shows, food, and drinks. Britain and France were the first the hold small scale fairs which culminated into the first World’s Fair in 1851. This first fair was called the Great Exhibition, also known as the Crystal Palace Exhibition, and was held in London’s Hyde Park. Since that time there have been over 100 other world’s fairs held in 20 different countries around the world

The 1968 World’s Fair began its planning in 1959 when it originally was meant to be a fair to celebrate the connections San Antonio shared with Latin America. The name HemisFair came from this idea, inspired by merchant Jerome K. Harris. Ewen C. Dingwall was soon brought in as the executive vice president because of his experience with the Bureau of International Expositions in Paris, which regulated the World’s Fairs. By 1965, HemisFair gained its international status and World’s Fair 1968 planning began.

Postcard showing the main area of the Fair.

Postcard showing the main area of the Fair. Image via: http://www.worldsfairphotos.com

The HemisFair wasn’t as successful as the planners had hoped, with financial troubles costing the city $7.5 million by the end. Still, the exhibit included more than thirty countries throughout North America, Europe, and South America as well as a few from Asia. Entertainment included artworks from the renowned Prado Museum  in Madrid, celebrity entertainers, and groups such as the Ballet Folklórico de México and the Bolshoi Ballet from Russia. More than 6.3 million visitors attended and multiple corporate exhibitors.

The 1968 World’s Fair had a lasting impression on the San Antonio landscape. It created the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, and the Tower of Americas which is an iconic part of the San Antonio skyline. HemisFair also brought about the Institute of Texan Cultures. The desire to represent the civilizations that contributed to San Antonio, and Texas as a whole, continue to be represented and celebrated in the museum today. [Briana Miano, edited by Joscelynn Garcia]

Additional Sources:

Greenhalgh, Paul. Fair World: A History of World’s Fairs and Expositions, from London to Shanghai, 1851-2010. Winterbourne, Berkshire, U.K.: Papadakis, 2011.

Larson, Erik. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America. New York, New York: Crown Publishers, 2003.

“A Brief History of World’s Fairs.” Time.

HemisFair ’68; Texas World’s Fair April 6-October 6, 1968, San Antonio, Texas. San Antonio. Texas: Express Publishing Company, 1968.

Texas Folklife Festival is next weekend!

2016 TFF card

The 45th annual Texas Folklife Festival is just around the corner, don’t forget to get your tickets! Advance tickets can be purchased HERE. This year the ITC has collaborated with VIA Metropolitan Transit, Lyft, and B-Cycle to help everyone get to the festival with reduced fares and park-and-ride service from Crossroads Mall.

In addition to all the great music, dancing and food you’ve come to expect from Folklife over the years the museum is adding some great new attractions to the event. Be sure to check out the new El Zócalo, a specially curated area by Chef Johnny Hernandez. It will include Mexican artisans, food demonstrations by chefs from Culinary Institute of America and  Pharm Table, as well as a a pop-up of El Machito.

Don’t miss out on this great RAIN OR SHINE event, June 10th-12th at the Institute of Texan Cultures.

Object: Handbill

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Womans Pavilion for HemisFair 1968
ca. 1968
Materials: Paper/Ink

This is a brochure from the Woman’s Pavilion for HemisFair ’68 requesting donations. Sister Mary Corita of the Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles, California designed the cover. The cover features the words, “The joyous responsibility of being a woman and as a woman responsible for joy.” The inside of the pamphlet has a quote attributed to Carl Sandburg “There is only one woman in the world, and her name is All Woman.”

Mrs. Winfield S. Hamlin (left), president of the Women's Pavilion at HemisFair

Mrs. Winfield S. Hamlin (left), president of the Women’s Pavilion at HemisFair

The President and Principal Executive Officer/Protocol Officer of the group behind the construction of the Woman’s Pavilion was Vivian Johnson Hamlin Terrett, also known as Mrs. Winfield S. Hamlin. Her responsibilities included supervising all the meetings and directing the activities of the staff involved. The purpose of the pavilion was to exhibit the contributions of women to society from all over the world. In January of 1967 Nellie B. Connally sponsored a luncheon at the La Paloma del Rio Restaurant in San Antonio which two hundred women attended to lend their support. Fay Sinkin, the president of the League of Women Voters, hosted the first coffee party benefiting the effort. Membership included up to 12,000 women from all over the world. The Woman’s Pavilion was the only one at the HemisFair built from the contributions of individuals. The architect, Cyrus Wagner, and Margaret Lynn Batts Tobin worked together to design the building. It featured 12,000 square feet of space meant to be used after the HemisFair ended. The building included a recording studio and a wall made of clay tiles with the hand prints of its founders.

After the charter obtained funding, Lady Bird Johnson participated in the dedication of the pavilion. Admission to the Woman’s Pavilion during Hemisfair was $1 for adults and 50¢ for children. Jewelry by Jeweler Irena Brynner, a sculpture called “Madre y Nino” by Bolivian Sculptor Marina Nunez del Prado, and artwork by Magazine Photographer Maria Martel were exhibited at the pavilion. During HemisFair, women volunteers staffed the pavilion.

An aerial view of the model for the Women’s Pavilion circa 1968

An aerial view of the model for the Women’s Pavilion circa 1968

After HemisFair ended, the intention was to make the building the home of the Inter-American Institute. The Institute would focus its research on different cultures, hosting seminars and housing a library that would include major works from different cultures. However, after HemisFair, the building reverted to the city of San Antonio and then was deeded to the University of Texas at San Antonio.  Eventually, the building fell into disuse and ended up as a storage warehouse for UTSA. The land was finally returned to the city and efforts to restore the building began. The Executive Director of the original project, Sherry Kafka Wagner, is now the President of the Women’s Pavilion board. The Women’s Pavilion board hopes to restore the building for future public events and women-focused exhibits, renamed as the San Antonio Women’s Pavilion at HemisFair Park. Currently, the city is working to revive the Hemisfair Park Area and provide the public with homes, businesses, and cultural spaces in the heart of San Antonio. [Ashton Meade, edited by Joscelynn Garcia]

Additional Resources:

Crowder, Richard. Carl Sandburg. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1964.

Holmsely, Sterlin. Hemisfair ’68 and the Transformation of San Antonio. San Antonio: Maverick, 2003.

Stuhler, Barbara. For the Public Record: A Documentary History of the League of Women Voters. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2000.

Women’s Pavilion at HemisFair Park, Inc. Women’s Pavilion at HemisFair Park, Inc, 2008. Web.

Asian Festival this Saturday!


Image via: Institute of Texan Cultures, Asian Festival 2015

Be sure to stop by the Institute of Texan Cultures this Saturday for all the great music, entertainment, and FOOD at Asian Festival!

Park and ride service will be offered to Asian Festival from the Crossroads Park and Ride, and service will begin at 9:15 a.m. and will run until 5:30 p.m.

Uber is also offering a special promotion for the festival. Sign up for Uber and insert the promo code TXASIAN to receive up to $20 off your trip! This promotion is for first time riders only and you can get started here! If you’ve already taken your first Uber trip, share this promotion with friends and family so that they can enjoy their first ride. This promo doesn’t expire until 2/29/16.

Object: Dance prop


Dragon dance prop
21st Century
Materials: cloth, paint

In western society the thought of dragons conjures up fearful images of large lizards that can fly and breathe fire. Often dragons are perceived as evil and a menace upon the land. Knights of legend would ride out and dual with dragons in the hopes of freeing the land and saving a beautiful princess. This image of the evil dragon has gone back for millennia in Greek, Norse, English and German culture and legends. However, the legend of the dragon in Chinese culture is very different.

China and its connection to dragons

The Chinese Dragon, sometimes called the Oriental dragon, is a benevolent creature with the ability to fly and live in the ocean. Dragons in China are often thought to control rain, rivers and other forms of water.  The earliest known depictions of dragons in China date back thousands of years, and can be seen in art, jewelry and pottery. Even though dragons have been a part of Chinese culture for a long time, there is still much debate on when and where they originated. The Totem-Worship Theory states that sometime around 2697 BC, China was made up of a number of different tribes who each had a totem depicting an animal or plant. The tribes believed they were blood related to these totems. One of the tribes, was ruled by the first legendary Emperor Huang Di. Huang Di fought against the Yandi tribe for the throne.

Image depicting Emperor Huang Di

Image depicting Emperor Huang Di

Emperor Huang Di’s tribe won and it is thought that his tribe adopted a coat of arms which depicted a snake. Emperor Huang Di soon started waging wars with other tribes in the area. It is believed that every time they conquered one of these tribes they took that tribes totem animal and incorporated it with their own. Many scholars believe that this is why the oriental dragon looks like it is made up from nine different animals, possessing the antlers of a deer; the head of a camel; the neck of a snake; a hawk’s claws; the palms of a tiger; an ox’s ears; a rabbit’s eyes; a frog’s belly, and a carp’s scales. Under Emperor Huang Di’s rule the central plains of China were unified and the symbol of the dragon has remained popular even today.

Two other popular theories are that the dragon is a stylized depiction of an animal, such as a fish, snake or crocodile or that the Chinese dragon represents lightning. Some evidence to support this is the fact that the Chinese pronunciation for the word dragon, lung or long, resembles the onomatopoeia of the sound of lightning in Chinese culture.

Symbolism of the Chinese Dragon

Today dragons are still highly respected in China and many Chinese consider themselves decedents of dragons. Legends say that after Emperor Huang Di died the gods in heaven granted him rebirth as a dragon. This falls in line with the Chinese belief that the dragon is the symbol of the emperor and all emperors of China were believed to be direct descendants of celestial dragons. Ancient emperors called their robes “dragon robes,” their palace a “dragon palace” and their throne “The Dragon Throne.” The close association with dragons in Chinese culture has made it a well known symbol of China.

Where did the Dragon Dance come from?

The dragon dance originated during the Han Dynasty (180-230 AD). While it is usually performed at festivals, like the New Year’s Festival and Lantern Festival, it originally started out as a folk dance. Because dragons are believed to be the bringers of rain, many farmers started to perform this dance in order to honor the dragon. The farmers would hoped that the dragon would be pleased by the dance and in return bring rain to the crops. By the time the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279 AD), the dragon dance had become very popular and being performed almost exclusively for festival events.

b6b1cb392dcd146cbe86aaeae078cbc9Though the dance may look simple from an outsider’s point of view, it takes many hours of practice for the performers to get and keep the movements of the dragon flowing. If one performer messes up, it can spoil the entire performance.  The dragon dance is carried out by a team of performers who carry the dragon on poles. The dragon’s body is made up of a series of hoops with a head attachment on one end and a tail attachment on the other. These dragon props can range from 25 to 70 meters long, with the shorter dragons used for more acrobatic dances while the longer ones are for ceremonial use. The color of the dragon is also symbolic. Most dragons are green, which symbolize the harvest. Gold represents the empire, and red represents excitement and good fortune.

Today, if you want to see a dragon dance without visiting China you need look no further than within your own local community. Here in Texas there are multiple festivals held throughout the year that feature dragon dances. At these festivals one can see a dragon dance and celebrate Chinese culture. In San Antonio, the Institute of Texan Cultures holds the Asian Festival every year. This year it will be held on February 13, 2016.  [Carlise Ferguson, edited by Joscelynn Garcia]

Additional Resources:

Blust, R.. (2000). The Origin of Dragons. Anthropos, 95(2), 519–536.

Nickel, H.. (1991). The Dragon and the Pearl. Metropolitan Museum Journal, 26, 139–146.

Petersen, V. D.. (1962). Dragons—in General. Elementary English, 39(1), 3–6.

Wilson, J. K.. (1990). Powerful Form and Potent Symbol: The Dragon in Asia. The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, 77(8), 286–323.

Liu, Xie, and Youzhong Shi. The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons: A Study of Thought and Pattern in Chinese Literature. Ann Arbor, Mich: University Microfilms International, 1979.

Don’t forget to order your Asian Festival tickets!

2016 Asian Festival card with time1

Asian Festival tickets are on sale now! Call 210-458-230, or click here, to get yours today.

Mark your calendars for the 2016 Asian Festival!

2016 Asian Festival card with time1

Visit the ITC website for more information.

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