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The Father Emil Wesselsky Collection - HemisFair ’68

Emil Wesselsky

Silent | 1968

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  •  Guests enjoy the rides at Fiesta Island  
  •  A look at the United States of America Pavilion and its Confluence Theater 
  •  The Migration Fountain 
  •  Touring the many international and organizational exhibitions 
  •  Familia Mora Arriaga, a family band, performs for the audience 
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This home movie captures a trip to the 1968 World’s Fair in San Antonio, known as HemisFair ’68. The film focuses on a visit to Fiesta Island, which housed the carnival rides and country pavilions. It also contains footage of the Migration Fountain, an art installation created by local artist and Trinity University Art professor Bill Bristow, and a musical performance.
The 1968 Hemisfair was a World’s Fair held in San Antonio to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the city’s founding. It was the first World’s Fair to be held in the southwest, and its theme was “Confluence of Civilizations in the Americas.” From April 6 to October 6, 1968, the Hemisfair welcomed over six million visitors. Famous attendees included Bob Hope, Louis Armstrong, Princess Grace of Monaco, President Johnson and his family, and Texas Governor John Connally. There were many attractions, including exhibits, a monorail, a lagoon, and a variety of performances. Perhaps the most controversial was a show called the “Flying Indians of Papantla,” during which four men tied to ropes revolved down a 114-foot pole. The complaints stemmed from a mock sacrifice at the beginning of the show, which involved a chicken and a topless woman. This was swiftly edited out of the show. 
The popular River Walk was extended in order to meet the site of the fair, and many new buildings were constructed in the downtown area to accommodate exhibitions from over 30 countries and 15 organizations. Some of these buildings remain, most notably the Tower of the Americas, which was the main symbol of the fair. The area is now known as HemisFair Park.