Harvest and Agricultural and Autumn Fairs and Festivals … and the Shows and Events Industry … Go Way Back

(This post was updated on November 13, 2019)

Charles Pappas, Senior Writer for Exhibitor Magazine, has won a slew of journalism awards, mostly for his writing about the conventions and meetings industry.

Mr. Pappas is author of the smart, entertaining, engaging, and enlightening book, Flying Cars, Zombie Dogs, and Robot Overlords: How World’s Fairs and Trade Expos Brought You the Future (Lyons Press, 2017).

There is much with which to happily occupy yourself, and much to learn from, in this book.

Among what the reader finds in Flying Cars, Zombie Dogs, and Robot Overlords is how fairs and expos, and shows and expositions, have their origins in agricultural marketing and selling (including the earliest farmers markets).

Consider this excerpt from the introduction to Mr. Pappas’s book:

“For hundreds of years, trade shows were as boring as the livestock, cloth, or herring they displayed on a rickety table or a reeking donkey cart.”

As explained in Chapter 64, titled, Farmegeddon, the broad and all inclusive sweep of the history of tradeshows and expos is largely one in which food and agricultural science played a starring role.

Then, again, the story of humanity is one heavy with the growing and raising of food.

Humans started farming about 12,000 years ago.  And across that stretch – even as farming systems became more effective and productive – the practice had largely been one that required of people to be hands on in lifting, pulling, pushing, and dragging — and commandeering beasts of burden that did the lifting, pulling, pushing, and dragging.

It is only over the past 100 years … which sort of coincides with the later stages of the Industrial Revolution and on through the Information Age and into the Digital Age … that the workforce rapidly, and in big numbers, moved away from agriculture.

During this period, as well, horses, mules, and oxen were relieved considerably of what had been for centuries their farm tasks.

Technology and improved systems made growing fruits and vegetables and raising livestock far less reliant on direct people and animal power.

In 1850, about 64 percent of the U.S. labor force was made up of those working in the farming industry.  A decade later the percentage of the U.S. labor force working on farms was at 54 percent. In 1890, the percentage number was 44. Thirty years later, approximately 28 percent of those working in our nation were employed in the agriculture.

Today, the percentage of working Americans holding a job in farming is between 1.5 and 2 percent. 

In the advent era of world’s fairs – that would be from the mid to late 1800s – their link to the promotion and marketing of the practices and new methods of growing and raising food were strong and far reaching.

Consider this excerpt from the Farmaggedon chapter:

“The very first world’s fair—the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations in 1851— offered tangible proof of these advances, with stacked pyramids of meat and champagne worthy of a pharaoh. Surpassing that, the Centennial International Exhibition of 1876 saw artist Henry Worrall’s models of the U.S. Capitol for the Kansas and Colorado buildings covered in a skin of apples. Later, for the 1881 International Cotton Exposition, Worrall masterminded a 3,000-square-foot pavilion ‘tastefully ornamented with grass, grains, corn and other farm products” and a diminutive railroad made of cornstalks.’”

Here we are, about 170 years after the inaugural world’s fair, and the kinship between shows and farming is as tight as ever. People have to eat. But what is also true is that in the total comos of all shows and events, those with a focus on agriculture occupy a far smaller percentage of space than in years past.

And we need to be ever mindful that the world population continues to grow, even as the growth rate has declined since 1970. 

How to best feed the planet remains a vitally important issue.

The final chapter of Flying Cars, Zombie Dogs, and Robot Overlords is titled “A Farewell to Farms.”

Featured in the chapter is a recent world’s fair, Expo Milan 2015, with its theme, “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.”

Keeping top of mind the theme of the Milan expo, we excerpt here from the chapter:

“One of the solutions touted at Expo Milano 2015 was vertical farms, where crops, stacked in rows often several stories high, are grown hydroponically, fed by a recycled water solution. (In one variant, the water solution is misted onto the plants’ roots.) The farms slurp down 70 to 95 percent less water than traditional areas of the same size, and, if placed in cities, can reduce food’s average journey from farm to plate from 1,500 miles or more to a few feet. Even better, most vertical farms rely on no pesticides whatsoever, contrasting sharply with the 5.2 billion pounds of insect repellents used worldwide.”

Fairs and other events that are much smaller in scope than those of the global variety continue to exalt and maintain a tie to farming and agriculture.

And of all times of the year, in the United States, and across much of the globe, it is early autumn … the time of harvest … the runup to Thanksgiving … that is most culturally, emotionally, ceremonially connected to and integrated within the efforts of societies to feed and sustain their people.

Following, and fittingly, Willwork Global Event Services takes a look at and discusses some of the best harvest and fall fairs and festivals in the U.S.

October – the first full month of autumn in our hemisphere – is a month of celebration and festivity aligned with the cultivation and ripening of that planted in the earth.

If we listen and pay attention, October and the fall … and the harvest … teach us about and reacquaint us with the importance of agriculture, and necessity of acting as responsible and caring stewards and custodians of the environment.

There is no fruit or vegetable that is more significant in Western culture, religion, and mythology than the apple.  Surely when you think of the harvest, of bounty brought in from the fields and orchards, the apple ranks with tomatoes, corn, green beans, and pumpkins as the produce that is most fixed our conscience and radar. 

Throughout our republic, come autumn, there are apple fairs and festivals.

One of the oldest and best apple fests is the National Apple Harvest Festival, held annually in Arendtsville, PA (about 10 miles from Gettysburg) over the first two full weekends in October. 

The National Apple Harvest Festival began in 1965.  While the event has always been about apples, even from its start 54 years ago it offered much more, with some of those attractions, including the antique car show, still on the festival schedule today.

“Mr. Apple” at the 2014 National Harvest Fair Festival

In 2019, the event has Native American dances, tractor square dances, a petting zoo, live  bands and … well … we have provided here an excerpt from the event website:

“ … the festival features over 300 arts and crafts vendors, an artisan demonstration area, strolling characters, antique farm equipment displays and of course food! Apples of all shapes, sizes, and forms, baked into just about anything you can imagine from homemade applesauce made fresh during the festival to pancakes, syrup, cider, slushies, guacamole, candy and caramel apples, pizza and much more. Plus, our famous pit beef sandwiches, chicken barbecue, sausage sandwiches, funnel cakes, sweet potato fries will surely delight your senses.”

Portland, Maine is an absolute treasure.  This small coastal city has great food, nightlife, a thriving tech industry, a vibrant artist community … and set all along a beautiful and rustic waterfront.

Twelve years ago, Harvest on the Harbor (HOTH) was created to herald and draw attention to Portland’s excellent and rapidly growing restaurant industry. 

Indeed, within the past decade, Bon Appétit, among the world’s best known and revered food and lifestyle media outlets, conferred on Portland two best-in-class awards and national distinctions: naming the city “America’s Foodiest Small Town 2009” and the “2018 Restaurant City of the Year.”

From its onset and continuing to the present, HOTH, held every October, has maintained its focus and honored the charge of telling the story about dining out in Portland, and recruiting people to give its food and hospitality a try.

For 2019, the three-day (October 17-20) is organized into several events, with each event requiring purchase of a ticket that covers all food, drink, and entertainment.   

Necessary to include in any list of U.S. harvest and autumn fairs and festivals is one that trumpets that particular winter squash, that gourd, which is the signature decoration of the season: the pumpkin.

One is not going to find a better pumpkin party and shindig than the New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival which takes place in mid to late October in Laconia, NH.

The New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival is a street festival attended by 40,000.

A sort of figurative and literal keystone of the celebration – the main attraction and fundraiser – is the tower of jack-o-lanterns, which in recent years has been comprised of 20,000 pumpkins and is 34-feet high.   

It is a true community effort, the jack-o-lantern tower project, with people and groups paying $10 to place a pumpkin in the tower. 

Other featured events of the New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival are pumpkin carving, pumpkin bowling, Zombie Walk, and the Jumpin’ Jack Car Show.

This pumpkin fest offers plenty of food and a beer garden.

The Oktoberfest festival, we know, is of German origin, with the first held in Munich on October 12, 1810 to celebrate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig – the future King Ludwig I – to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen.  It was a public celebration with horse races as the main draw.   

A year later, an encore Oktoberfest was held in Munich, with horse races still the central attraction.  Added to the gala was an agriculture fair.

Oktoberfest is now something of an international phenomenon.

The original Oktoberfest is still held annually in Munich.  There are no horse races.  But, every third year the Munich Oktoberfest includes the agriculture fair. 

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati – conducted annually in downtown Cincinnati since its start in 1976 – is the largest Oktoberfest festival in America.  Close to 600,000 people attend every year. 

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati honors the strong German legacy of the southwest section of Ohio. 

A view from of the street at the 2018 Oktoberfest Zinzinnati

German food, German music, and German beer are the stars of Zinzinnati, held this year on October 20 and 22.  

We did say German food.  Cincinnati Regional Chamber compiled statistics on food consumption that took place at a recent Oktoberfest Zinzinnati; among the stats:  64,000 sauerkraut balls, 80,500 bratwurst, 702 lbs. of Limburger cheese, 1,875 lbs. of German potato salad, 16,002 strudel, and 400 pickled pigs feet. 

Willwork Global Event Services just had to include an annual event that takes place in Massachusetts – the state where our corporate headquarters is located.  More precisely, the event is held almost at the tip of Cape Cod, which is, admittedly, a bit of a trek – a little more than 90 miles – from Willwork corporate.

The community of Wellfleet on Cape Cod is known for its delicious shellfish, particularly the oysters that are harvested from the ocean beds just off the town’s coast.

Every year, during the third weekend in October, the Saturday/Sunday Wellfleet OysterFest happens in downtown Wellfleet. Twenty thousand people visit Wellfleet on the festival weekend.

Oysters are, appropriately, the star of the event.  Then, again, Wellfleet clams hold positive and popular distinction among food lovers.  Plenty of shellfish … raw and cooked … and prepared in a vast variety of ways, are served.  

Wellfleet oyster farmers at the 2018 Wellfleet OysterFest

The two-day oyster “Shuck-Off” contest is a cornerstone of the fest, with professional shuckers, local fisherman, and chefs competing.

There is music and locally brewed beers and ales.

Bands play and artists show and sell their work.

Enjoy and revel in the season – and the harvest – is the recommendation of Willwork Global Event Services.

To complete this mission, we further recommend that you attend a harvest of fall festival or fair – or any other celebration of this wonderful time of year.  

Fifty Years Ago Today, the United States – and Three Men – Completed Maybe the Greatest Scientific and Logistical Achievement to Date

IBM – A Longtime and Highly-Valued Willwork Global Event Services Client – Played an Essential, Integral, and Broad-Ranging Role in Putting Men on the Moon and Bringing Them Back Safely

Events and Exhibitions are Taking Place Across America to Celebrate and Honor the Epic Voyage of Apollo 11

Face of Plaque That U.S. Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin Set on the Moon on July 20, 1969 (Image credit: NASA)

“We choose to go to the Moon! We choose to go to the Moon…We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.”

PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY, speaking at Rice Stadium on September 12, 1962

Willwork Global Event Services – founded in 1987 – is a leading multinational exhibition services and event project management company.

Among those companies and organizations that are our valued clients, and for which it is our privilege to service, are among the world’s largest and most successful corporations, and also small enterprises with only a few employees that you may not have heard of … but you will, soon enough.

On our blog it is our custom to herald and tout extraordinary achievement in our own industry, and also in sectors and activity closely aligned, and which hold a kinship with, our business – for example, construction, engineering, computer science, logistics, and industrial design.

If you click here you will be transported to our Memorial Day 2017 post that featured an astounding and epic execution of logistics that helped launch our nation.

On this blog we also like to talk about exhibitions and events, whether made and produced by humans, or nature and the cosmos … or a combination of these entities.

Willwork has surely used this place to celebrate and point to the most impressive shows and events – those that are celestial and galactic, and are performed in the skies above us.

Please click here to be taken to post we published, on July 27 of last year, about the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st Century, one which brought with it a “blood moon,” and which played out across most of the planet in the evening sky of July 27-28.

Back on June 20, we published here a post about the June solstice, the annual mega event that our solar system holds, and which marks for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere of Planet Earth, the longest day of the year and the commencement of summer.  In the post, we only discussed solstices on this planet.  Yet the other planets in our solar system also have solstices … and seasons and equinoxes

We will stay here with discussions of the Moon and Earth, and cosmos … as we most certainly should – for 50 years ago this month the United States of America pulled off just maybe the greatest scientific and engineering feat in the history of humanity, fulfilling the first component of a goal that President John F. Kennedy had set for the nation in 1961: to within a decade be the first country to safely land humans on the Moon.

And … for sure … there was a second component of the mission: to safely return the humans to earth.

Successfully completing the roundtrip would amount to an even greater scientific and engineering achievement. 

To meet President Kennedy’s challenge the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) founded and operated the Apollo Program.

Of course, when President Kennedy tasked America with beating out all nations to be the first to make it to the Moon and back, he … and the country he led … only had one competitor in mind: the Soviet Union.

IBM and Journeying to the Moon and Returning Home

America won the race. 

Winning the race for the country were brilliance, courage, daring, focus, and a workforce of 400,000 that, as explained in a July 16, 2019 Associated Press story, written by Marcia Dunn, “stretched across the U.S. and included engineers, scientists, mechanics, technicians, pilots, divers, seamstresses, secretaries and more who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to achieve those first lunar footsteps .”

It is easily imaginable, and the concept is solidly credible, that without the technology and computing power of longtime and highly-valued Willwork Global Event Services client IBM, the U.S. maybe have been the runner-up in the space challenge.

Following is an excerpt from an IBM online collection of stories and photos about the company’s contribution to Apollo 11 and the broader Apollo program:

“Some four thousand IBMers were involved in the Apollo program: pioneering the technologies; building the computers; writing the software programs that launched the missions and guided them safely back to Earth, and inventing the miniaturized circuity that converted a mainframe the size of a refrigerator into something the size of a suitcase.”

Clicking here takes you to that story and photo collection.

Indeed, as NASA flight director Gene Kranz declared: “Without IBM and the systems they provided, we would not have made it to the Moon.”


With a model of the Apollo 11 lunar module in the background, IBM Houston programmers – Susan Wright (left), Mitch Secondo (rear), and David Proctor – surveys equations they have programmed into NASA computers (Image credit: IBM)










Triumph of a Nation

Ultimately, and for sure, Apollo 11 was a national effort.

It was a national effort the final stretch of which took place across eight days in July of 1969.

To the Moon – July 16, 2019

(Note: all times in this post are expressed in Eastern Standard Time.)

Fueled and powered by a Saturn V rocket, the Apollo 11 spacecraft launched from the coast of Florida at 9:32 a.m. on July 16, 1969. Aboard Apollo 11 were astronauts Neil Armstrong, who was the mission commander, and Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins.  The Apollo 11 spacecraft was composed of two sections: the command and service module Columbia and the lunar module Eagle.

It took a little more than three days (76 hours precisely) for Apollo 11 to travel 240,000 miles and enter the orbit of the Moon on July 19. 

The Landing – July 20, 1969

Here is a description – excerpt from the History article, “1969 Moon Landing,” – of the events of July 20:

“ … at 1:46 p.m., the lunar module Eagle, manned by Armstrong and Aldrin, separated from the command module, where Collins remained. Two hours later, the Eagle began its descent to the lunar surface, and at 4:17 p.m. the craft touched down on the southwestern edge of the Sea of Tranquility. Armstrong immediately radioed to Mission Control in Houston, Texas, a now-famous message: ‘The Eagle has landed.'”

At 10:39 p.m., five hours ahead of the original schedule, Mr. Armstrong opened the hatch of the lunar module. As he made his way down the module’s ladder, a television camera attached to the craft recorded his progress and beamed the signal back to Earth, where hundreds of millions watched in great anticipation.

At 10:56 p.m., as Mr. Armstrong stepped off the ladder and planted his foot on the Moon’s powdery surface, he spoke his famous quote, which he later contended was slightly garbled by his microphone and meant to be “that’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Mr. Aldrin joined Mr. Armstrong on the ground of the Moon 19 minutes later, and together they took photographs, planted a U.S. flag, ran a few simple scientific tests, and spoke with President Richard Nixon (1913-94) via NASA’s Houston command center.

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin also set on the Moon a plaque bearing an inscription. We have provided, above, a photo of the plaque and the inscription.

It is estimated that about 20 percent of the world’s population watched the Moon landing and the astronauts walking across its dusty and gray terrain.

Back in the Eagle, and Rejoining Columbia – July 21, 2019

On July 21, at 1:11 a.m., after speaking with the President, taking the photos, conducting the tests, and placing the plaque, the two astronauts, now inside Eagle, closed the hatch of the lunar module.  They slept that night on the Moon.

At 1:54 in the afternoon on July 21, Eagle commenced its ascent to rendezvous with Michael Collins and the command module Columbia.  The lunar module and the command module successfully docked at 5:53 p.m.

Coming Home – July 22, 2019

AT 12:56 a.m. on July 22, Apollo 11 started for home.

Not well known and not widely reported was the high level of danger and considerable risk involved for Apollo 11 in returning to earth.  In fact, on the return trip disaster nearly befell the astronauts.

Please click here to be transported to a Forbes magazine story, “Everyone Missed An Apollo 11 Mistake, And It Almost Killed The Astronauts Returning To Earth,” written by Ethan Siegel that was published July 19.  

Splashdown and Mission Complete – July 24, 2019

Tragedy was averted.

Apollo 11 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 12:50 p.m. on July 24.

When the command module landed in the ocean, next up was the matter of safe retrieval of the astronauts, which the United States Navy aircraft carrier USS Hornet and its crew members performed flawlessly.

The Apollo 11 Exhibition – Traveling and Permanent Exhibition

Willwork Global Event Services has to include here the exhibition angle of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. 

On October 14, 2017, at Space Center Houston, opened was Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission, a 50th anniversary traveling exhibition curated and administered by the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in partnership with Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.

Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission includes runs through late winter 2020. A permanent exhibition will follow that will be located at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. and which opens in 2022.

The star attraction of Destination Moon is the original command module Columbia, making its first tour since 1971.  Playing a supporting role in the exhibit are 20 artifacts from the Apollo 11 mission.

Apollo 11 command module Columbia (Image credit: NASA)

Destination Moon was held at Space Center Houston until March 18, 2019.  It was then on to the Saint Louis Science Center (April 14–Sept. 3, 2018), Senator John Heinz History Center, Pittsburgh (Sept. 29, 2018–Feb. 17, 2019), and The Museum of Flight, Seattle, a showing that began on April 13 and lasts until September 2.

Original plans for the Destination Moon had The Museum of Flight, Seattle as the final stop on the tour.  Yet last month, in response to enthusiasm and interest in the exhibit, a fifth and final leg was added: Cincinnati Museum Center, from September 18, 2019 through February 17, 20120.

More Events and Exhibitions Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11

NASA has compiled a list of exhibitions and events held, being held, and to-be-held across the nation to celebrate and remember Apollo 11.  Many of the events are continuing their run into early fall, and some into December.

Please click here to be taken to the list.

Still the Only Country

The United States remains the only nation to put people on the Moon.

Twelve astronauts have landed and walked on the Moon. All those astronauts made it safely home.

The most recent U.S. trip to the Moon, which was also the last time an American spacecraft traveled in lunar orbit, was the Apollo 17 mission of December 1972.

Astronauts on the Apollo 17 mission were Gene Cernan, Harrison “Jack” Schmitt  and Ronald Evans.

Messrs. Cernan and Smith landed on the Moon, and stayed for three days, during which they took “moon walks” and conducted experiments.

Mr. Evans stayed in the command module and orbited the Moon.

Just think – it has now been almost 47 years since that trip.