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Opinion >  Column

100 years ago in Spokane: Thousands flocked to a popular ‘sportsmen’s and tourist’s fair’

 (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives )
(Spokane Daily Chronicle archives )

Spokane’s Sportsmen’s and Tourists’ Fair was a smash hit.

Nearly 12,000 people showed up on the day prior to a Spokane Daily Chronicle article, bringing the total attendance to more than 25,000.

“For an hour last night, when 2,500 visitors were viewing the displays, the doors were locked and and several hundred people were kept waiting outside until it might be safe to permit more to enter the building,” the Chronicle wrote.

The Fair included elaborate camping, hunting and fishing displays, and educational exhibits about wildlife and the outdoors.

Organizers were a bit surprised at how many women were at the event.

“Women are taking a remarkable interest in this fair,” the Idaho state game warden said. “It is no wonder that women have been backward in the outdoor game with the clothing they had to contend with. With the proper clothing, a woman can and will be out in the ‘tall and uncut’ and hold their own with the men.”

The event was held at the Culbertson Building, but organizers had already determined that in subsequent years they would have to find a larger space, possibly even an outdoor space under the railroad viaducts.

From the conservation beat: In a related event, a speaker at the Spokane Chamber of Commerce luncheon listed the appalling “record of wastefulness” Americans had compiled over the past decades.

He talked about the millions of buffalo slaughtered, and millions of carrier pigeons blasted into extinction. He warned that the Northwest’s salmon-packing industry would decline sharply unless “stringent laws” were enacted to protect the fisheries.

The Chronicle said it supported such conservation efforts.

“The Chronicle has consistently pointed out these facts in the past, explaining that the great Northwest is the last big wild game country in the United States, and if this region desires to invite tourists and hunters to its natural playground, it must enact laws and provide wardens to protect wild game during the mating season.”

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