Patterson Fair

The entry gateway to the first Patterson Fair in 1919 greeted visitors from the Plaza circle onto Salado Avenue. Note the Leverton building (now Schut Insurance) on the far right on North Third Street. On the left are shown flags atop big top tents used for fair activities. Patterson’s was the only fair in Stanislaus County that year.

It was 100 years ago this week that the small town of Patterson was preparing for its first community celebration.

That would be the Patterson Fair, a project of the local Chamber of Commerce aimed at promoting the 10-year-old community.

Much work went into the fair-planning that summer of 1919. Committees took on a variety of tasks, and to get the preparation work accomplished, the Patterson Ranch Co. donated $100 to hire a full-time fair manager just weeks before the Aug. 21-23 event.

And as it turned out, the fair was a smashing success. That first year it was held downtown, much of it on Salado Avenue where no buildings had been erected inside El Circulo.

Three big top tents housed the fair activities and displays, and a gateway welcomed fair-goers who paid a small admission fee to gain entrance. Electric lights and a dance floor greeted visitors just inside the gateway. A dance band from San Francisco supplied the music each evening.

The women of the Colony Club, one of Patterson’s early organizations, served noon and evening meals in a newly-constructed dining hall, and PG&E had a display of all-electric food preparation and served evening meals to 16 selected diners.

It was arranged that the U.S. Aviation Corps out of Sacramento provide aerial demonstrations daily, using a special landing strip just behind the new high school building. One fair day Patterson’s outgoing mail was taken to Stockton by plane rather than the usual delivery by rail.

The numerous fair displays were mostly local, and featured new automobiles and farm implements, including a tractor show. Free moving pictures were shown, and ice cream – not normally an outside treat – was made available.

A Modesto band entertained fair-goers, and visitors representing the Modesto and Turlock chambers of commerce made formal visits to the West Side. They crossed the river near Crows Landing, there being no bridge east of Patterson, and were escorted to our community by a delegation from the local chamber.

Livestock judging was popular at the three-day celebration, with prizes awarded the winners. Judging demonstrations were given by representatives of the University of California. Locally-grown vegetables, said to be having their best growing year in Patterson’s short history, were on display. Lectures also proved popular.

Saturday was a big fair day, for it had visitors from each of the 14 Farm Bureau organizations in the county. It should be noted that the local fair was the only such celebration in Stanislaus County in 1919.

The Patterson Irrigator, which only weeks before had changed ownership, reported that fair attendance was gratifying and that thousands had passed through the ticket booth. Financial success also was noted, and the Patterson Fair Association went on to hold two more celebrations in 1920 and 1921.


Micaela Trevino Cantu’s name is long overdue to be added to our 90-plus list. She has lived in Patterson the majority of her life, raised her family here, and will turn 98 on Sept. 18.

Thus our list increases to 79. Any more out there that we’ve missed?


Only Persons of Maturity will remember when films playing at the theater were listed in the newspaper.

If you wanted to check on listings or playing times, you simply checked the newspaper. Even the Irrigator carried listings for many years.

But no more.


This is the time of year when pro football players are sweating in practice and only a few baseball teams are struggling for playoff spots. Boring.

Fortunately, Little League diamond games are of interest on the telly, and that’s where my attention is focused these days.


Here’s a few more phrases out of the past:

Jumpin’ jehoshapaphat, holy moly, hung out to dry, knee high to a grasshopper, and see ya later, alligator.

Ron Swift is editor/publisher emeritus of the Patterson Irrigator. He can be reached at

PI editor/publisher emeritus

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