By John Carranza
San Antonio, Texas is a city rich in history and tradition. Therefore, it is hard to imagine the downtown skyline without the Tower of the Americas standing tall over the other buildings.
The Tower has been assimilated as a major symbol of San Antonio identity for residents and tourists alike. Horace Sutton, of the Chicago Tribune, claimed that the Tower was “the tallest permanent world’s fair tower to be built since Gustav Eiffel went to work with his Erector Set in Paris.” The Tower soon after its 1967 construction became a tourist attraction used by the City of San Antonio to generate revenue. The combination observation deck and revolving restaurant give tourists a chance to experience cuisine while overlooking the geographic landscape of the city. The Tower of the Americas was one of the lasting legacies of HemisFair ’68, the first southwestern world’s fair, combining food and culture from around the world. Food and culture have been connected in San Antonio from the German population that handed down their native recipes from one generation to the next, and the Mexican population that created a dish—chili con carne—that speculations say originated in San Antonio. For tourists and residents, food and culture is also closely attached to consumption.
World’s fairs, such as HemisFair ’68, and expositions are unique social phenomena that originated with the 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition in London. Since that time they have come to be institutions of modernity and progress. World’s fairs were showcases of technological innovation and scientific advances. They also displayed a country’s economic strength and artistic resources that showcased architectural forms and urban modeling. As each world’s fair was produced, the desire to be better than the last was ingrained in each country’s imagination. Gotham points out that mega events such as world’s fairs were used as tools to promote a particular city by enhancing its image and using the opportunity to develop urban landscapes. At each world’s fair the country did not directly sell its goods, but instead displayed them to increase popular awareness. There can also be no doubt that any influx of tourists into the city would have a positive economic reaction on the local economy. The success of each fair depended on the amount of horizontal and vertical geographical space used and the construction of more complex exhibits for material and living displays. World’s fairs were sites of conspicuous construction. The 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois saw George Ferris’s first Ferris Wheel engineered and structures such as the Eiffel Tower, the Space Needle, and the Tower of the Americas icons for Paris, France, Seattle, Washington, and San Antonio.
World’s fairs were lived experiences that had an effect on people and their memories. Robert Rydell wrote World of Fairs: The Century of Progress Expositions partly because of his “experience of listening to [his] father’s stories about his youthful adventures at the futuristic Century of Progress Exposition.” James Gilbert has also emphasized the role of memory and its importance in American society. The competition between the different creators of memory has caused his justifiable unease with the idea of collective and individual memory. Historians and social memory-keepers, according to Gilbert, are sometimes implicated in the crime of neglecting the particular actor that is the audience. The audience makes the fair; therefore it is important to understand their “private musings, idiosyncratic desires, and unconstrained imaginations.” Gilbert’s attempt to make the St. Louis Exposition come alive through the audience can be applied to HemisFair ’68 through a careful review of the sources that reveal how people may have spent their time and money at the fair.
The production of world’s fairs has been based on the idea that the more conspicuous the fair, the more people might be willing to travel and spend money on fairgrounds and its surrounding area. For Americans, consumption has meaning, and has been an important aspect of a shared identity. Douglas J. Goodman and Mirelle Cohen have defined consumption as “the set of practices through which commodities become a part of a particular individual.” Anthropologist Grant McCracken elaborates the definition further by including “the processes by which consumer goods and services are created, bought, and used.” McCracken posits that consumption is cultural in character because of the differing practices and ideals that “construct notions of the self, and create social change.”
In the context of world’s fairs, the fairgoer is present as her own actor, but also acts as part of a collective, cultural, experience. The consumption of goods is not strictly due to material characteristics, but for what they symbolize. World’s fairs have always symbolized modernity and excessive consumption in the materials used to construct the fairgrounds, to produce memorabilia, foodstuffs, and memory. Consumption also refers to the actual taking in of some material thing, such as food, in which it becomes a part of the body by evoking an experience in addition to nutritive nourishment. It is this shared experience in which consumption becomes cultural; a way of life based on shared ideals.
Burton Benedict, an anthropologist who studied the San Francisco Panama Pacific International Exposition, has likened world’s fairs and the massive consumption undertaken before and during the fair to the potlatch tradition of Native Americans of the northwest coast of North America. The potlatch tradition is characterized by lavish gift giving, which in some cases, would lead to the destruction of large quantities of goods. Sometimes the more valuable goods were destroyed in the competitive nature surrounding potlatch. Benedict makes a valid case by likening world’s fairs to potlatch traditions in unique Western society because of their conspicuous consumption, competition, and the prestige gained by destroying large amounts of goods as a set cultural ritual.
Food and drink have been central to the production of world’s fairs as being one of Benedict’s tenets of techniques to impress. Nineteenth century expositions were essential in displaying the nation’s immense agricultural production, but continued into the twentieth century. Displaying large quantities of foodstuffs was important at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904 in which Missouri featured a “corn palace.” Other examples include: Santa Barbara County in California which displayed a fifty foot bottled olive oil obelisk at the Columbian Exchange in Chicago, and at the 1894 California Midwinter Exposition, Santa Clara County included a life size armored knight named Sir Preserved Prunes and was mounted on a horse made of prunes.
HemisFair ’68 did not have such grand displays that were physically made of food, but alternatively, there were ways of promoting culture and encouraging consumption through food and drink. Jeremy MacClancey notes how each society has rules that govern what its members eat through what it collectively decides are more appetizing. Cuisine becomes a statement of an identity and distinctiveness as a culture. By examining the institutions of grocery store participation, restaurants and food plazas, and corporate sponsorships the case can be made that the culture of consumption, and the consumption of culture at world’s fairs has as much to do with how people experience and remember food and drink and its occurrence at the fair as a collective than it does to the more outlandish exhibits by other countries and corporate sponsors. In other words, food and drink and consumption are inextricably bound to one another by the cultural processes that were produced by fair organizers and absorbed by fairgoers.
HemisFair ’68 was the first southwestern world’s fair held in the United States. San Antonio occupies a unique space in the geography of Texas because it is not on the border, and yet it still has a large Mexican and Mexican-American population and cultural identity. Unfortunately, in the body of work on world’s fairs HemisFair ’68 is not mentioned beyond more than two pages, nor has there been anything more than Sterlin Holmesly’s HemisFair ’68 and the Transformation of San Antonio, an oral history of men in positions of power and focused predominantly on what happened behind the scenes. Why this would be the case is not entirely known, but it is possible that HemisFair ’68 symbolically joined the inventory of Latin American world’s fairs Lisa Munro discusses that were somehow eclipsed by larger discourses of American and European world’s fairs.
Perhaps the ninety-two acres and nearly seven million people who attended were considered small compared to some of the other world’s fairs, thus rendering it less of a world’s fair in some sense. It is important that there are numerous sources still in existence, both written documents and actual fairgoers that can provide insight into the fair that helped to permanently change the face of San Antonio.
Grocery stores as spaces of food consumption that sold bonus books, restaurants and food plazas selling “authentic” food, and corporate living exhibits were central to how people consumed HemisFair ’68, thus furthering the culture of world’s fairs. These processes include what is sold and bought by consumers, what is eaten in food plazas and restaurants, and cultural experiences produced by corporate companies. Consumption of these at a world’s fair enables goods to have a specific cultural and modern meaning. These goods show change and continuity among the fairgoers while at the same time attempting to hold on to some notions of tradition. It can be argued that these multiple processes of consumption create a shared culture highlighted by the change and continuity that the consumption of goods held for all who experienced HemisFair ‘68.
HemisFair ’68 was the result of a culmination of extensive planning by San Antonio businessmen and the community to improve the economy of the city and to regain the status that was lost when the 1930 census showed that Dallas had become the largest city in Texas. HemisFair ’68 was to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the founding of San Antonio while at the same time celebrating the “Confluence of Civilizations in the Americas.” Fair organizers specifically sought the participation of Latin American countries, but also attempted to include countries from Europe, Africa, and the Far East. Support for the fair came from all levels of society. Local businessmen helped to underwrite the fair, San Antonio residents voted for a $30 million bond, Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez and Senator Ralph Yarborough helped secure federal funding, Governor John Connally and President Lyndon B. Johnson were instrumental in the fair’s creation. Federal support came through the passage of an Act approved by Congress on October 22, 1966 (Public Law No. 89-284) that “authorized and requested the President to issue a Proclamation calling upon the several States of the Union and foreign countries to take part in the exposition.” The United States Immigration Service even temporarily changed its rules and made it easier for entry from Mexico into the United States. Non-residents of the U. S. that had border crossing cards that permitted visits up to seventy-two hours within a 150-mile radius were allowed to stay ten days and were able to travel in any part of Texas during that specified time frame.
The area of downtown San Antonio where HemisFair ’68 was to be held was rich in history. In the early eighteenth century, farmlands from the Mission San Antonio de Valero (the Alamo) were located in the area. The main source of irrigation was the Acequia Madre, which provided water for the fields and occupants. By 1856, the city was divided into four wards and covered thirty-six square miles. The fourth ward, which had a significant portion of land that was to become part of HemisFair ’68 was predominantly German, but also included Polish settlers and African-Americans. Streets formed a grid-like network through the neighborhood that included homes and businesses. The mid-twentieth century saw many of these residences and businesses in decline, and under the Federal Urban Renewal Program of 1949, which provided money to purchase property in decline and use it to stimulate development, one hundred forty seven acres of land were cleared at a cost of twenty eight million dollars. The land in turn was bought by the City of San Antonio at a cost of three million dollars, which then leased ninety-two acres to San Antonio Fair, Inc. the nonprofit organization that was tasked with putting together the world’s fair. The less affluent people living in this area were relocated.
San Antonio Fair, Inc. began to plan the fair in 1962, far in advance of the opening in 1968. In order to legitimize their efforts, fair organizers applied to the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE), the governing body of world’s fairs, to become a “Special Category Exposition” with the theme “The Confluence of the Civilizations of the Americas.” The push for funding for HemisFair ’68 manifested itself in the desire to recruit industrial exhibitors and other governments. It is interesting that not only were some of the early corporations on were brands like General Electric and IBM, but also corporate companies associated with food and drink. Pearl Brewery Company of San Antonio was one of the first to jump aboard in February 1966, and others like PepsiCo/Frito-Lay, Coca Cola, Lonestar Brewery and Falstaff Brewery followed suit. Many of the underwriters that helped to get HemisFair ’68 off the ground were associated with food: Bassett’s Fine Foods, Blue Bonnet Potato Chip Co., The Borden Company, Casa Rio Mexican Foods, and Lung Jeu Restaurant, to name just a few from a rather extensive list. Food and drink companies were, in the instance of HemisFair ’68, tied to the consumption of culture and the culture of consumption that included eating ethnic foods and purchasing the right, in essence, to see displays of other cultures.
Fair organizers were conscious of the fact that many fairgoers would not be able to afford the cost of attending and experiencing a world’s fair. Some denounced the world’s fair as being only for the affluent, claiming that fairgoers would be unable to pay exorbitant prices on the grounds. If high prices charged at the fair were a common fear among potential fairgoers they were soon partly silenced by the relative ease in their pocketbooks with which they would be able to enjoy the fair. Paid admission to HemisFair ’68 included many free exhibits. Patrons were able to experience the international and industrial exhibits and free shows without having to incur any extra costs. Shows with additional admission costs often featured celebrities such as Bob Hope. One contributor writing in The (Westside) Sun, a supplement to the San Antonio News, noted how food in the food clusters were reasonably priced, but the prices of some of the restaurants where “full course dinners and more sophisticated foods” were served were not mentioned and may have presumably cost more.
One of the many devices that HemisFair planners employed to not only drum up support, but to also ease the anxiety surrounding the cost of attending such a fair was the bonus book. Bonus books provided discount pricing on admission to the fair and also included popular exhibits. A typical bonus book offered tickets to the grounds, the Lagoon Cruise, the “El Encanto de un Pueblo,” the “Kino-Automat,” and the Mini-Monorail for two adults. Bonus books were also sold in other parts of the United States. In Chicago, Illinois, bonus books could be purchased at Continental Trailways, Greyhound Tours, and Braniff Airlines, and were promoted as saving the consumer forty one to fifty percent of regular admission at the fairgrounds. Proving that a world’s fair is just as local as it is global, fair organizers in San Antonio recruited local grocery stores such as the H.E.B. grocery company to sell the bonus books.
The agreement between HemisFair ’68 and H.E.B. shows that both parties saw the opportunity to capitalize on the needs of consumers that only grocery stores could provide. In other words, as spaces of consumption grocery stores offered not only food and other goods that satisfied basic needs, but became spaces that offered a chance to experience the cultural world through a world’s fair. The forty thousand adult and fifteen thousand children’s H.E.B. Special Bonus Books printed by the Texas Gold Stamp Company were expected to gain a profit of $1.70 and $.70 respectively for H.E.B. grocery stores. Other grocery stores in Texas such as Piggly-Wiggly, Handy Andy, Maverick Markets, and Weingartens offered bonus books and made profits while appealing to the need for the world’s fair to be affordable.
Despite such promotional tactics it is somewhat difficult to gauge how consumers, potential fairgoers, may have viewed the required expenses to attend the fair, because not all of them were alike. They came from different parts of the United States, and from all over the world. The only group that could possibly be solicited for such information would be those fairgoers still living in San Antonio. In one case there was still the anxiety and belief that the world’s fair would only be for the affluent. After HemisFair ‘68’s official opening Hortencia F. Cabrera, winner of a free trip to the fair, still “had heard that HemisFair was only for the rich people, but I wanted to find out for myself,” and concluded, “anyone can visit the Fair and see all the marvelous pavilions and many other attractions completely free.” Realizing that the fair was affordable, Cabrera planned on making a second trip to the fair with her daughter. Mrs. Raul C. Perales, the first winner of the contest, agreed that a person could spend just as much as she or he wanted. Some families even took their own food and bought drinks at one of the food clusters.
HemisFair ’68 officially opened its five gates on April 6, 1968 to much fanfare. Joe Perez, who had stood waiting since 6:45 a.m., was the first person to enter at entrance number one when the park gates swung open at 9:00 a.m. after a ribbon cutting ceremony at each of the gates. While fairgoers, including Joe Perez, toured the park and enjoyed the food and rides, President Johnson and an Official Party consisting of four hundred guests maintained a highly structured day. Moving from the Civic Center Arena where the official inauguration ceremonies took place, the group was to traverse to the U.S. Pavilion for the dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony of the pavilion. After the dedication ceremony concluded the group walked to the Tower of the Americas for a luncheon, which was guarded against the crowds by security. The luncheon planned in the Tower Restaurant was one of elegance. High above the fairgrounds and the city the party enjoyed a menu of salad, roast prime rib en croute, Chinese pea pods with water chestnuts, rissole potatoes, grilled tomato Parmesan, coupe of the Americas, a pinot noir and coffee catered by Frontier Enterprises. The consumption of food as varied as the Chinese pea pods with water chestnuts and coupe of the Americas suggested that they were more than likely beginning to consume different cultures, or at least the mere appearance of different cultures.
Hours later President Johnson and the Official Party ended the first day of HemisFair ’68 at the Civic Center Theater with a performance of the opera “Don Carlo.” In between acts, a catered buffet was served that included an assortment of foods. Uncle Ben’s Catering Service worked with a budget of $30, 850.00 in order to provide an elegant and well-organized event for patrons who paid $6.50 to attend the event. It is easy for one to imagine all of the servers wearing white gloves while women wore white aprons and headpieces to offset their black uniform, and men wore gold jackets, bow ties and black slacks as they tended to the models of fish, turkey and dove made out of bread, onion flowers, hors d’ oeuvres, gourmet cheese trays, miniature cream puffs, and miniature pineapple chiffon tarts.
The food available to those patrons who were able to afford going to these special events was decidedly much better than what any fairgoer on a modest budget would be able to afford. The price of the opera was $6.50 and was two dollars less than what a bonus book would have cost a fairgoer to enjoy an entire day on the fair grounds. The food consumed by the parties at the Tower of the Americas or who attended “Don Carlo” and ate the food at the buffet was enough to signal a dividing line between the elegance and prestige afforded to some members of society by distinguishing what was eaten from the other food choices on the fairgrounds (higher end restaurants were not as numerous). According to Grant McCracken, “individuals can take possession of objects without destroying their strategic value,” in this instance in the form of luncheon and opera tickets, “in order to take possession of a small concrete part of the style of life to which they aspire.” Many may have aspired to this lifestyle, but the majority may have already been a part of that lifestyle.
Food and drink were not in short supply at HemisFair ’68 from the top of the Tower of the Americas down to the actual fairgrounds. The HemisFair 1968 Official Souvenir Guidebook boasted, “HemisFair ’68 spreads the cuisine of the world before its visitors.” One reporter stressed that there were “no less than 80 restaurants, food stands and snack stands spaced over the grounds.”
HemisFair ’68 spread its culinary wares to fairgoers in open, air-conditioned, spaces called food plazas that featured snack stands and restaurants. The Goliad Food Plaza was located directly across from the Federal Pavilion, the Tower Food Patio was across from the base of the Tower of the Americas and was opposite of the Pearl Brewing Pavilion, and the third major food location was on the lower level of the Lake Pavilion. Most of the food plazas and restaurants were situated within close proximity to the Tower of the Americas, which was clearly the undisputed architectural symbol of HemisFair ‘68. It is very likely that the spaces in which these food plazas were constructed happened to be situated in a manner that would help to facilitate consumption by allowing easy access from all of the main attractions. Food plazas allowed enough room for fairgoers to move around and interact with one another.
Food plazas had a rather eclectic mix of stands, restaurants, and kitchens. Some of the more interesting food establishments were at the Goliad Food Plaza, which included Mexican food such as buñuelos (a light sugary pastry), chorizos (sausages), and pan dulce (sweet bread). Other international foods included: Italian dishes such as ravioli and spaghetti, a Swiss bakery/restaurant, and German roast/corned beef and ham sandwiches. There were also ample United States and Texas—which included chili a longtime part of San Antonio identity—options such as: pioneer treats (biscuits with ham, muffins, scones, waffles), American favorites (steak sandwiches and hot and cold beverages), U.S. picnic (hamburgers and hot and cold beverages), and the Gay ‘90’s restaurant, which harkened back to the good times of the1890s. The Tower Food Patio had eateries that included French, Swiss, and German national foods. Each of these spaces that allowed the consumption of ethnic foods, both economically and nutritiously, helped to facilitate the fairgoer’s desire to experience the cultural identity of other country.
The general affordability of food plazas would have assured that fairgoers would spend their money eating at the snack stands. The generous amount of American, Texan, and San Antonio foods would have provided a safety net to those who would have been less intrepid in the foods they chose to eat at the fair. The plentiful American selections at the food plazas show how fairgoers internalize their cultural diets by eating food that is familiar as opposed to something that is foreign. Conversely, anyone from another country, Mexico for example, may have had a new experience by trying food that was not a major part of his or her everyday diet.
Some of the historic houses that were restored after their removal from the pre-construction fairgrounds were used as restaurants that dotted the grounds. The Chun King Restaurant at the Lake Pavilion, Tandoor of India near the United States Pavilion, Casa San Miguel (a Philippine restaurant) in Las Plazas del Mundo, and Tipico Tamales were all found in restored houses. These restaurants offered foods and drinks from their respective nations, but local heritage was still the focal point of eating at HemisFair. The physical structures showed a past intertwined with the present in a way that dictated San Antonio’s place in a modern world that was rapidly changing.
Of course, the pavilions and restaurants were of interest to fairgoers because several of the foods were seen as authentic, even national, and as part of that country’s permanent diet. Whether an authentic or national food is truly a characteristic of a nation’s (or even a state or city’s) identity could be entirely false, half false, or true. Eric Hobsbawm’s coined term, “invented tradition,” said that traditions that may seem old and part of popular imagination may have only recently become part of national imagination or invented. Invented traditions are “a set of practices, normally governed by overtly or tacitly accepted rules and of a ritual…which seek to inculcate certain values and norms of behavior repetition, which automatically implies continuity with the past.” It was in this vein that some restaurants looked to offer “traditional,” “authentic,” or “real” ethnic foods.
In the months before the opening of Fonda Santa Anita across from the Mexico Pavilion, the food was promoted as being “authentic” and “REAL” Mexican food. The restaurant’s authenticity was further solidified by the fact that Francisco Santamaria’s family served Mexican food at the first high quality restaurant in Mexico. Santamaria had already operated two other “official” Mexican restaurants, one at the New York World’s Fair and the other at the Montreal Expo ’67. The concerted effort to keep the food authentic was made by having ingredients sent to the United States directly from Mexico. Even the restaurant was created from mortar that came from Mexico. The restaurant extended its authenticity by including a mariachi band, furnishings from Mexico, and “modern” blown glass and wooden cubes to filter light.
At Fonda Santa Anita no expense was spared in order to give diners a truly authentic experience. Diners would have been able to physically consume and internalize the foods of Mexico that they may not have gotten from other establishments that served Mexican food. The food and cultural aspects such as the mariachis and wooden cubes that filtered light were consumed in a manner that was internalized as nutrition and memory, while also contributing to a direct economic exchange. Could any of these factors truly make the food and lived experience any more “authentic?” To what extent were the food, mariachis, and building materials from Mexico an invented tradition? It is hard to gauge this, especially within the parameters of this study, but it is important to consider when exploring how fairgoers may have chosen to patronize this restaurant in the face of German, Filipino, French, and Swiss foods among others.
The pavilions that occupied the fairgrounds were numerous, but the ones that stood out were the ones that belonged to corporate entities. In square footage, industrial exhibitors obtained pavilions larger than most other countries that participated in HemisFair ’68. PepsiCo/Frito-Lay (by the beginning of the fair PepsiCo and Frito-Lay had merged) and Coca-Cola Company had pavilions that were approximately 17,500 square feet, which was considerably larger than most governments with the exception of Texas, the United States, and Spain with 153,000, 60,000, and 31,830 square feet respectively. The average range of some of the other government pavilions were from 3,000 to 4,500 square feet. Eastman-Kodak was one of the smaller industrial pavilions with 5,000 square feet and Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. was one of the larger with 20,000. That PepsiCo/Frito-Lay and Coca Cola Co. tied for third place in sheer size says more about the state in which corporate food vendors were positioned at HemisFair ’68. Since corporate exhibitors had to pay for the construction of their pavilions it is relatively easy to see just how much of a stake they had in the success of the fair.
Continuing a long legacy of living exhibits at world’s fairs PepsiCo/Frito-Lay brought anthropology to HemisFair ’68. Living exhibits have long been a feature of world’s fairs as Nancy J. Parezo and Don D. Fowler pointed out. Crowds often “gathered at or near modern expositions and included displayed people, billed as ‘savages’…who could be gawked at for a fee.” These were often outside the gates of the exposition and were seen as nuisances. What was different about HemisFair ’68 and the living exhibit brought by PepsiCo/Frito-Lay was that they were no longer viewed as savages, nor were they on the fringes of society and fairgrounds. Instead, they embodied a “noble savage” stereotype and were brought front and center. Parezo and Fowler also claim that living exhibits featuring Native peoples were essential to the success of smaller fairs. St. Louis held a small exposition in 1889 in which San Carlos Apaches were brought in to perform their rituals. HemisFair ’68 had one such living exhibit that was popular among fairgoers.
“See the death-defying act of the fearless flying Indians,” the advertisement for the PepsiCo/Frito-Lay pavilion stated simply as one of Los Voladores, or the Flying Indians, wearing his “traditional” garb of an headdress that resembled the beak of a bird looks nobly into the distance. This was how Los Voladores de Papantla were characterized throughout the tenure of HemisFair ’68. The beginning of the Los Voladores performance often included the ritual sacrifice of a maiden princess to the gods. The troupe performed their rituals daily; four to five times a day on weekdays with a fifth added on the weekends in an open amphitheater for large crowds. Each act included a performance in which one dancer danced on a disc of approximately twenty inches at the top of a one hundred and fourteen-foot pole. At the completion of the dance, the other Flyers climbed to the top of the pole, secured only with rope tied around their waists, and leapt performing thirty two rotations around the pole.
Los Voladores was one of the more “exciting spectacles in the Western Hemisphere” at the time of HemisFair ’68. From December 11, 1967 and leading up to the opening of HemisFair ’68, PepsiCo set out on a media blitz with the intent of drumming up interest in the act, the company, and HemisFair. Curiously enough the “exploitation schedule” included news in every major media outlet available at the time, which did not seem to involve any member of Los Voladores. Two hundred and fifty of the largest metropolitan newspapers received the announcement of the story, attempts at distributing the story to a major consumer magazine were made, photos of the progress of the construction of the exhibit and the poles used for the ritual were circulated. Color films and radio taped “sounds” of Los Voladores were also to be supplied by the HemisFair publicity office. This, of course, all led up to the press conference announcing formally the company’s support of and involvement in HemisFair ’68 as well as the living exhibit. Mexican cocktails, Frito-Lay hors d’oeuvres, and Pepsi products were served as appetizers and refreshments before the official statement and question and answer session with Joan Crawford—who was a member of the PepsiCo board—other PepsiCo/Frito-Lay officials and the Voladores chief. 
Los Voladores’ lived rituals were promoted to fairgoers as being an authentic performance preserved for over four hundred years. This claim, at first, seems stretched, but is not without some credibility as Rosemary Gipson has shown. Using the codices Codex Porfirio Diaz and Codex Fernandez Leal, Gipson was able to show how the rituals of this Aztec group were performed, while simultaneously adapting to ever-encroaching European Christianity. The early performances had numerical and cosmological value for the Aztec Indians. Only four men performed in the ritual, which was in accordance with the “four birds [that] flew from the four cardinal points…in thirteen circles, equivalent to the rhythmic calendar number of fifty-two.” In the codices, there were similarities to the ritual performed at HemisFair ’68, which included the elongated pole, men rotating around the pole attached only by ropes, and the elaborate costumes meant to resemble birds. The sacrifice of a maiden princess seems to have been misplaced in the history of Los Voladores since it was not seen on the codices nor did Gipson discuss it.
The placement of the PepsiCo/Frito-Lay amphitheater was significant in how it became one of the more impressive and most visited exhibits at HemisFair ’68. The amphitheater was positioned between a steak house restaurant and a Polynesian restaurant, and was directly across from the Pearl Brewing Co. Pavilion. The spectacle could also be viewed by fairgoers from the mini-monorail that snaked through the fairgrounds, which was situated behind the audience, and from the Tower of the Americas, which also provided an expansive view of the fairgrounds. The positioning of the amphitheater and the living display of an “authentic” ritual combined to be one of the more popular exhibits that fairgoers consumed. The rituals were popular and intriguing enough to the audience that when the maiden bared her breasts for the sacrifice ritual, “there were no gasps of indignation. There were no crude cat-calls. No one left.”
HemisFair ’68 organizers were astute in their business acumen to document characteristics of fairgoers, provided a fair view of where fairgoers came from, how they traveled, and what they found to be some of the more popular features of the fair. Fair organizers can be praised for such documentation, but it is inconsistent in regards to how questions were asked and how results were recorded. Nevertheless, some of the answers to the question: “What did you enjoy most or what do you think is the best attraction at the Fair?” can be applied to how people responded to Los Voladores. Some of the earlier surveys separated the Los Voladores exhibit from the general category of “Industrial Exhibits,” while some of the later ones included Los Voladores as part of “Industrial Exhibits.” It is safe to say that where Los Voladores are not distinguished as being a separate entity they at least became part of the larger whole of industrial exhibits. Although survey results were inconsistent it is important to examine what was reported because it provides a glimpse into how the average fairgoer reacted to such a living exhibit.
The findings of the April 21, 1968 survey results showed that Los Voladores garnered 4.8% of people’s opinions in being the most outstanding feature, or attraction, of the fair. This was roughly half of the Industrial Exhibits listed, which included Coca Cola, IBM, and General Motors to name a few, and more than the Water Show. As of May 1, 1968, 6.8% of fairgoers chose Los Voladores as the most outstanding feature of the fair, which was more than the percentages of the Texas Pavilion, Water Show, Food and Restaurants, and more than half of the Industrial Exhibits. The May 6, 1968 survey is where the shift from individually naming Los Voladores as a distinct exhibit switches and is grouped together with the Industrial Exhibits. This makes it a little more difficult to gauge where the “Flying Indians” fell among the other Industrial Exhibits, but one can see that this category with its 17.3% overtook the U.S. Pavilion (13.2%), Texas Pavilion (8.9%), Governmental Exhibits (16.1%), and Miscellaneous Others (12.9%), and was less than the Tower of the Americas (31.6%). June 10, 1968 survey results also listed Industrial Exhibits at 16.3% over the Texas Pavilion (14.4%), U.S. Pavilion (13.1%), and a series of some of the smaller attractions that had not been listed such as the mini monorail and the skyride. The survey data changed again and incorporated weeks of data from August 13 to September 15, 1968, and included Industrial Exhibits (23%) with Los Voladores (8.6%) and Coca Cola (7.5%) as subgroups. Los Voladores was more popular than the Texas Pavilion and “free entertainment.” The final survey data report from September 16 to October 2, 1968 had a more detailed breakdown of the Industrial Exhibits, and in this instance Los Voladores once again led with 8.9%, which was also much higher than the foreign pavilions of Mexico, Spain, France, Japan, and Canada.
The sales reports of PepsiCo Inc. seem to suggest that there was a strong correlation between the Los Voladores exhibit and the sales of PepsiCo/Frito-Lay products at two points within the park. The opening of the park on April 6 through April 26 showed sales of $19,741.03 as the first wave of fairgoers made their way through the gates. The high sales from all outlets that sold PepsiCo/Frito-Lay products continued throughout the month of May when it reported $27,265.86. The beginning of summer vacation for many families also made itself apparent in the sales for the month of June, which reported an astonishing $40,376.00. July and August sales built on June’s high sales with $46,267.98 and $51,349.98 respectively. The total sales for the month of September are incomplete because the reports do not list sales for the first week, but the total for the remaining three weeks of the month equaled $19,285.57, a marked decline. The final sales reports for October, which correspond to the closing of HemisFair ’68, showed earnings of $15,935.31. With numbers as high as these it is hard to dispute that there may not have been a correlation between the exhibit and the sales of PepsiCo/Frito-Lay products.
Los Voladores was one of the more interesting spectacles at the fair meant to attract visitors and boost corporate name recognition. The modern was juxtaposed with tradition. While PepsiCo/Frito-Lay benefited from the “Flying Indians,” members of Los Voladores were acting in the interests of preserving a heritage through the sale of their rituals and customs. Anthropologist Rudi Colloredo-Mansfeld later pointed this out in his fieldwork with the Otavaleno community in Andean Ecuador, which was predominantly poverty stricken, but maintained distinct class lines. What he found was similar in some ways to the presentation of Los Voladores at HemisFair in that they were essentially an adulterated indigenous group performing ritual tradition for a larger consumer culture in order to make a living. The lack of information about how Los Voladores spent their wages makes it difficult to determine if they participated in cultural enhancement (using new money to elaborate selected cultural forms, even as they neglected others) or cultural dependence (continuing need to earn money to buy the fashionable products of dominant metropoles). It was highly unlikely that the rituals and costumes associated with Los Voladores had become any less important since it was first performed over four hundred years before HemisFair ‘68 (nor was it less important when anthropologist Cora Govers came across the ritual being performed in 1994 in Nanacatlan). A form of cultural enhancement, many members who performed still held on to its ritual significance, but as Rosemary Gipson quoted one of the flyers as saying: “We are the sacred birds that fly with the four winds to the four cardinal points, but nowadays six of us fly to make a finer show.”
HemisFair ’68 did not occur in a vacuum, but instead happened during a period of United States history that was quite turbulent. The country experienced the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, foreign policy was focused on war in Vietnam, the summer Olympics were to be held in Mexico City, which provided problems of their own in which they had to build a better spectacle than that in Japan in 1964. There was also debate on welfare entitlements such as food stamps. In San Antonio, newspapers often discussed the issue of hunger. The decision of the federal government to postpone the food stamp program required the San Antonio City Council to take action. There was some discussion about who was to blame for the thousands of people that were suffering. Some of the blame was placed on the lack of employment and high illiteracy rates. The toll of hunger and poverty on San Antonio and Bexar County even elicited a CBS telecast that focused on the thousands of citizens that were affected by hunger.
This stark contrast between the consumption of culture through food and drink at HemisFair ’68 and the conditions of the impoverished and hungry was an example of the “paradox of plenty” in which the United States existed. The hungry lived on the margins of society and were used as political tools, while the rest of society ate in elaborate ways with impressive displays of food.
Curiously, coverage of HemisFair ’68 occupied the same newspaper space that coverage of poverty, hunger, and food stamps did. Yet, what remains of the six-month HemisFair ’68 are memories of good times at the fair. Some structures were transformed to suit the needs of the community. HemisFair ’68 exposed social inequalities that existed in terms of poverty and hunger, but there seemed to be no evidence that showed outright disbelief that such a big event could be held while so many were hungry.
The importance of food and drink and its ties to consumption can be seen throughout San Antonio. Some of the lasting impressions that HemisFair ’68 had on the city were tied almost directly to food and drink. The Tower of the Americas still has a restaurant that rotates high above the city. The spread of recipes that remind people of HemisFair ’68 still circulate such as the Belgian Waffle recipe or the Fabulous Fried Ice Cream recipe that surfaced in a 2008 article, “HemisFair ’68: Fare from the Fair,” which led the author to claim that “a visit was a treat for the soul and the palate.” It is quite clear that processes of consumption that enabled people to become part of a culture also led to a shared identity in which food and drink occupied a privileged space. By consuming “authentic” and “real” food they were made to feel part of a community whose traditions may or may not have been invented. They immersed themselves in living exhibits meant to show the tradition of one culture, but sponsored by a corporation, which is a symbol of adaptation to changing mores of a society. The culture of consumption and the consumption of culture were prominent and intertwined during HemisFair ’68, and ultimately signaled the change and continuity often seen in consumption.
City of San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation, HemisFair Records.
San Antonio Conservation Society, HemisFair ’68 Records.
San Antonio Fair, Inc., Records, 1962-1995 (Bulk 1964-1968), MS 31, University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections.
San Antonio Public Library, Texana/Genealogy Room at the Central Library.
HemisFair 1968 Official Souvenir Guidebook. Dallas: A.H. Belo Corporation, 1968.
HemisFair ’68: Special Supplement produced and coordinated by San Antonio Express and News, 1968.
Ramsdell, Charles. San Antonio: A Historical and Pictorial Guide, HemisFair Edition. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1968.
“Anyone Can Enjoy Fair Even at Modest Budget.” The Sun: A Supplement to the San Antonio News, July 4, 1968.
“Authentic Mexican Restaurant Opened.” The Sun: A Supplement to the San Antonio News, May 2, 1968.
“Aztec Ritual: Indians Thrill Crowd.” San Antonio Light, April 4, 1968.
“City Faces Emergency: Surplus Food.” San Antonio Light, April 5, 1968;
“First to Enter HemisFair.” The Sun: A Supplement to the San Antonio News, April 11, 1968.
“HemisFair No Place for Dieters.” San Antonio Light. April 7, 1968.
“HemisFair is Marvelous Assert Contest Winners.” The Sun: A Supplement to the San Antonio News, July 25, 1968.
“Hunger Solutions Should Be Issue.” The Sun: A Supplement to The San Antonio News, June 6, 1968.
Huxtable, Ada Louise. “HemisFair, Opening Tomorrow, Isn’t Texas-Size, But It’s Fun.” The New York Times, April 5, 1968.
“Indian Fliers: They Flirt With Death.” San Antonio Light, April 7, 1968.
“Most HemisFair Attractions Are Offered Without Charge.” The Sun: A Supplement to the San Antonio News, May 9, 1968.
“People and Places.” Chicago Tribune, January 21, 1968.
“Private Exhibits Are Free at Fair.” The Sun: A Supplement to the San Antonio News, July 18, 1968.
“Restaurant to Serve ‘Real’ Mexican Food.” The Sun: A Supplement to the San Antonio News, April 25, 1968.
“Rule to Aid Fair.” San Antonio Light. April 3, 1968.
Sutton, Horace. “Land of Superlatives to Host HemisFair.” Chicago Tribune, March 24, 1968.
“We Know San Antonio Has Hunger, But Who Should Be Blamed?” The Sun: A Supplement to The San Antonio News, May 30, 1968.
Benedict, Burton. The Anthropology of World’s Fairs: San Francisco’s Panama Pacific International Exposition of 1915. London and Berkeley: The Lowie Museum of Anthropology in association with Scholar Press, 1983.
Boyer, Paul S. Promises to Keep: The United States Since World War II, Third Edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005.
Colloredo-Mansfeld, Rudi. The Native Leisure Class: Consumption and Cultural Creativity in the Andes. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1999.
Gilbert, James. Whose Fair?: Experience, Memory, and the History of the Great St. Louis Exposition. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2009.
Goodman, Douglas J. and Mirelle Cohen. Consumer Culture: A Reference Handbook. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2004.
Govers, Cora. Performing the Community: Representation, Ritual and Reciprocity in the Totonac Highlands of Mexico. Berlin: Lit Verlag, 2006.
Hobsbawm, Eric. “Introduction: Inventing Traditions.” In The Invention of Tradition, edited by Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, 1-14. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
Holmesly, Sterlin. HemisFair ’68 and the Transformation of San Antonio. San Antonio: Maverick Publishing Company, 2003.
Levenstein, Harvey. Paradox of Plenty: A Social History of Eating in Modern America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.
McCracken, Grant. Culture and Consumption: New Approaches to the Symbolic Character of Consumer Goods and Activities. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988.
MacClancey, Jeremy. Consuming Culture: Why You Eat What You Eat. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1994.
Meyer, Michael C., William L. Sherman, and Susan M. Deeds. The Course of Mexican History, Seventh Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
Parezo, Nancy J. and Don D. Fowler. Anthropology Goes to the Fair: The 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007.
Rydell, Robert W. All the World’s a Fair: Visions of Empire at American International Expositions, 1876-1916. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1984.
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Rydell, Robert. World of Fairs: The Century-of-Progress Expositions. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1993.
Gipson, Rosemary. “Los Voladores, the Flyers of Mexico.” Western Folklore 30, (1971): 269-278.
Gotham, K.F. “Resisting Urban Spectacle: The 1984 Louisiana World Exposition and the Contradiction of Mega Events.” Urban Studies 48, (2011): 197-214.
Kirsch, Francine. “Eat Me at the Fair: America’s Love Affair with Food Installations.” Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture 11, (2011): 77-83.
Munro, Lisa. “Investigating World’s Fairs: An Historiography.” Studies in Latin American Popular Culture 28, (2010): 80-94.
Grossman, Lori. “HemisFair ’68: Fare from the Fair.” April 2008. Accessed February 8, 2012. http://www.texascooking.com/features//april2008_hemisfair.htm.
 I would like to take this opportunity to thank Nikki Lynn Thomas and Juli McLoone in Special Collections at the John Peace Library of the University of Texas at San Antonio. Their help and patience were crucial to this research. Elizabeth Porterfield at the City of San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation and Beth Standifird at the San Antonio Conservation Society were very accommodating in pulling the needed sources from the files before I arrived to conduct my research. The staff at the San Antonio Public Library Texana/Genealogy Room at the Central Library were kind enough to help me on more than one occasion by answering my questions. Finally, I would like to thank everyone who listened to my research ideas and believed in the project while it was still a work in progress. This history belongs to the citizens of San Antonio more than anyone else.
 Robert W. Rydell, John E. Findling, and Kimberly D. Pelle. Fair America: World’s Fairs in the United States (Washington and New York: Smithsonian Books, 2000), 32-33, 108, 138; Robert W. Rydell, All the World’s a Fair: Visions of Empire at American International Expositions, 1876-1916 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1984), 2; Burton Benedict, The Anthropology of World’s Fairs: San Francisco’s Panama Pacific International Exposition of 1915 (London and Berkeley: The Lowie Museum of Anthropology in association with Scholar Press, 1983), 3; K.F. Gotham, “Resisting Urban Spectacle: The 1984 Louisiana World Exposition and the Contradiction of Mega Events,” Urban Studies 48, (2011): 198.
 Sterlin Holmesly, HemisFair ’68 and the Transformation of San Antonio, (San Antonio: Maverick Publishing Company, 2003), 2, 5-6; Memorandum from Jack Newman to James M. Gaines regarding Foreign National Participation, 1-2: Box 186, Folder 13, San Antonio Fair, Inc., Records, 1962-1995 (Bulk 1964-1968), MS 31, University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections; “San Antonio-and HemisFair ’68,” Cavalier, 46: Box 268, Folder 22, MS 31; “Rule to Aid Fair,” San Antonio Light (San Antonio, TX), April 3, 1968.
 HemisFair Park Area Master Plan, 9-10: HemisFair Records, City of San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation; Ada Louise Huxtable, “HemisFair, Opening Tomorrow, Isn’t Texas-Size, But It’s Fun,” The New York Times (New York, NY), April 5, 1968.
 International Exposition of 1968, HemisFair ’68: Report to the Bureau of International Expositions Paris, France, May, 1966, 1,4: Box 73, Folder 4, MS 31; Letter to Mr. Francis Dury Regarding Lone Star Brewing Company’s participation, 1: Box 203, Folder 6, MS 31; HemisFair 1968 Underwriters, 2-3, 9: Box 73, Folder 17, MS 31.
 The name Westside Sun seems to have been the unofficial name of the supplement as “westside” was not included in the title. The microfilm is shelved at the San Antonio Central Public Library in the Texana room under the name Westside Sun, which suggests a familiarity with and the claiming of the supplement as belonging to the westside. The westside of San Antonio was and still is a predominantly Mexican-American section of town.
 “Most HemisFair Attractions Are Offered Without Charge,” The Sun: A Supplement to the San Antonio News (San Antonio, TX), May 9, 1968; “Anyone Can Enjoy Fair Even at Modest Budget,” The Sun: A Supplement to the San Antonio News (San Antonio, TX), July 4, 1968; “Private Exhibits Are Free at Fair,” The Sun: A Supplement to the San Antonio News (San Antonio, TX), July 18, 1968.
 “First to Enter HemisFair,” The Sun: A Supplement to the San Antonio News (San Antonio, TX), April 11, 1968; Minutes of Opening Events Committee Meeting, March 6, 1968, 2: Box 74, Folder 12, MS 31; Opening Day Activities: Tentative: Box 243, Folder 17, MS 31; Frontier Enterprises Letter to Lizabeth Pritchett, March 11, 1968: Box 245, Folder 5, MS 31.
 HemisFair 1968 Official Souvenir Guidebook (Dallas: A.H. Belo Corporation, 1968), 107-108, 112; HemisFair ’68: Special Supplement produced and coordinated by San Antonio Express and News, 57: HemisFair Records, City of San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation.
 Official Souvenir Guidebook, 109, 111; HemisFair ’68: Restored Buildings, 3-4, 9: HemisFair Records, City of San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation; RJRF 1968 Passport: International Foods Menu, Pamphlet: HemisFair ’68 Maps, Brochures, Etc. Folder, San Antonio Conservation Society.
 “Restaurant to Serve ‘Real’ Mexican Food,” The Sun: A Supplement to the San Antonio News (San Antonio, TX), April 25, 1968; “Authentic Mexican Restaurant Opened,” The Sun: A Supplement to the San Antonio News (San Antonio, TX), May 2, 1968.
 Enco HemisFair ’68 Detailed Map of HemisFair: San Antonio Street Map: Folder: HemisFair ’68 Maps, Brochures, Etc., San Antonio Conservation Society; “Indian Fliers: They Flirt With Death,” San Antonio Light (San Antonio, TX), April 7, 1968.
 HemisFair ’68 Survey Results (April 21, 1968), 1,3; HemisFair ’68 Visitor Characteristic Survey (May 1, 1968), 1, 3; HemisFair ’68 Visitor Characteristics (May 6, 1968), 1, 3; HemisFair ’68 Survey Results (June 10, 1968), 1, 3; Survey Results for Period of August 13 thru September 15, 1968 (September 23, 1968), 1, 3; Survey Results for Period 16 Sep-2 Oct 1968 (October 3, 1968), 1, 3: Box 73, Folder 21, MS 31.
 Rudi Colloredo-Mansfeld, The Native Leisure Class: Consumption and Cultural Creativity in the Andes (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1999), 33. The ideas of cultural enhancement and cultural dependent were elaborated by Richard Salisbury cited by Colloredo-Mansfeld.
 Paul S. Boyer, Promises to Keep: The United States Since World War II, Third Edition (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005), 292-293, 295-296; Michael C. Meyer, William L. Sherman, and Susan M. Deeds, The Course of Mexican History, Seventh Edition (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 639-641; “City Faces Emergency: Surplus Food,” San Antonio Light (San Antonio, TX), April 5, 1968; “We Know San Antonio Has Hunger, But Who Should Be Blamed?” The Sun: A Supplement to The San Antonio News (San Antonio, TX), May 30, 1968; “Hunger Solutions Should Be Issue,” The Sun: A Supplement to The San Antonio News (San Antonio, TX), June 6, 1968.