Labor Day is quickly approaching, and with it, the unofficial end of summer. But, the long weekend allows for one last chance to enjoy summer pastimes, such as a trip to the fair, amusement park, or beach. If you are looking for ways to spend your Labor Day weekend, look no further, here are some of our favorites from NARA’s motion picture holdings.
County and State Fairs
In some parts of the country, August and September are synonymous with fair season. County and State fairs are an important part of cultural life in small towns, and a popular event in larger towns and cities. Fairs began as a way for farmers to promote their livestock and display crops. As the United States became a more industrialized society, fairs reflected this change by including not only agricultural products but also carnival rides, games, automobile racing, and concerts.
Even Henry Ford enjoyed a good fair. The Ford Motor Company exhibited its products at county, state, and several World’s Fairs. Films from the Ford Motor Company collection held by NARA document several of their fair displays. The following stills of a Ford Motor Company display were taken from the film FC-FC-4191 shot at the 1932 Michigan State Fair. The entire film can be viewed on our catalog here: FC-FC-4191
One of the most popular state fairs in the United States is the State Fair of Texas. Considered one of Texas’ signature events, the State Fair of Texas began in 1886 and is consistently one of the country’s largest fairs. The fair is captured in this 1963 U.S. Information Agency (USIA) film titled State Fair! The film follows a family as they experience a day at the fair complete with Big Tex, carnival rides, animal exhibitions, art displays, a fashion show, and even a lost child. It’s purpose? To share the excitement and spirit of an American fair with audiences around the world through USIA distribution. The entire film can be viewed on our catalog here: 306.3081
Another popular way to spend a summer afternoon is with a trip to the amusement park. One of the earliest amusement parks was Luna Park located in Coney Island, Brooklyn. The park opened in 1903 and was a popular destination until the Great Depression and a fire in 1944. America At Play is a 1918 film from the Ford Motor Company Collection and features Luna Park. The film’s first intertitle reads, “Have you ever been to Coney? No? Well then you’ve missed half of the fun in this old world for Coney is where they manufacture it. Fun in large packages or small, for grown up or growing ups–it’s the place to play for a day.” The original Luna Park may no longer be around, but people still flock to Coney Island for relaxation and entertainment during the summer months.
Summer would not be complete without a trip to the beach, especially if you live on either coast of the United States. One of the most popular beach destinations, Atlantic City, is captured in the film “By the Sea: Seeing Atlantic City” from the Ford Motor Company Collection. The film is sure to have viewers packing their bags for a quick trip to the beach. Atlantic City, New Jersey has been a destination for beachgoers since the building of its first commercial hotel in 1853. Thanks to easy rail access, the area continued to gain popularity well into the mid 20th century. “By the Sea” captures Atlantic City circa 1919 with images of its famous boardwalk, Lucy the Elephant, and beach activities.
This Labor Day Weekend, whether you decide to visit the fair, amusement park, beach or participate in any other summer activity, make sure to enjoy summer’s last hurrah!