Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle celebrates Yakima County Day on June 11, 1909.

  • By Phil Dougherty
  • Posted 5/18/2009
  • Essay 9027
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On June 11, 1909, Yakima County Day is celebrated at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle. The A-Y-P Exposition took place on the University of Washington campus in Seattle between June 1 and October 16, 1909, drawing more than three million people. Visitors came from around the state, the nation, and the world to view hundreds of educational exhibits, stroll the lushly manicured grounds, and be entertained on the Pay Streak midway, while Seattle promoted itself as a gateway to the rich resources of Alaska, the Yukon, and Asia. Each day of the A-Y-P was designated as a Special Day for one or more groups. Special Days drew people involved in the featured organizations, and the resulting programs, lectures, ceremonies, parades, and athletic competitions gave local people a reason to visit again and again. Yakima County Day is a relatively small day at the fair, attracting about 300 Yakima County citizens; it features a reception and a small luncheon. Nagler's Juvenile Band from North Yakima, consisting of 42 boys between the ages of 8 and 15, darn near steals the show on Yakima County Day.

Last Minute Preparations   

About 300 visitors from Yakima County were on hand to celebrate their first special day on June 11, 1909. (A second, larger special day that included Yakima County, called Valleys of the Yakima Day, took place on September 22, 1909.) There some suspense as the big day approached: The Yakima County Building was completed late, and the exhibits for the building arrived even later, but things were almost entirely in order by June 11, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Commissioner J. Haasze. (An article in the Yakima Daily Republic just after Yakima County Day complained that the building was still full of rubbish left over from its rush to completion.) The building featured displays of fresh fruit daily, and for Yakima County Day itself, boxes of apples were on hand for distribution to the masses.

Most of the visitors came by special train, which picked up fairgoers in Grand View (Grandview), Sunnyside, Wapato, and a particularly large contingent from North Yakima (today known as Yakima). There were complaints from the North Yakimites that the special train was not advertised until the day before its departure, causing some who otherwise would have come to the fair to miss it because of the short notice.  But attendance likely would have been low anyway; the Seattle Post-Intelligencer noted that it was a critical period in the fruit season, and many ranchers were reluctant to leave their ranches.

One Heck of a Band

Still, the Yakima County delegation was all smiles when it queued up at the main gate at 10 a.m., fresh from a sightseeing trip of Seattle along its streetcar lines. Led by Nagler's Juvenile Band, its members resplendent in white coats and flat-top caps, the crowd marched through the grounds, stopping in strategic locations so the band could play. (The band hailed from North Yakima and was made up of 42 boys between the ages of 8 and 15. It ended up being quite an attraction at the fair, and played daily at the exposition for another two days after Yakima County Day.)  At 11 a.m. the visitors arrived at the Yakima County Building for their reception, where they were welcomed by A-Y-P President J. E. Chilberg (1867-1954). Granville Lowther, editor of the Washington Fruit Grower, gave the response and observed:

"I owned 160 acres in the corn belt of Illinois and a wheat farm in Kansas, but I want to say that more can be made out of a five-acre fruit farm in Yakima than on 160 acres in the corn belt; than on 320 acres in the wheat belt, or from 640 acres of good average United States grazing land" (Yakima Takes A Look At The Fair).

At noon about 35 of the more esteemed visitors were treated to lunch by exposition management in the New York Building. This included Lowther; W. P. Sawyer, described by the Daily Times as “one of the leading pear growers in the state”; W. M. Richards, president of the Yakima County Horticultural Union; and L. O. Meigs, Yakima attorney and also speaker of the 1909 Washington House of Representatives.    

The reception and luncheon were the two special events held in honor of Yakima County Day. With no further activities scheduled that afternoon, many of the Yakima County visitors took in the sights and sounds of the fair, while Nagler’s Juvenile Band performed at Pioneer Square and delighted the crowd with their show.

Sources: “Yakima Valley Delegation Here For Exposition,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 11, 1909, Sec. 1, p. 1;  “Yakima Takes A Look At The Fair,” Ibid., June 12, 1909, Sec. 2, p. 1;  “Tomorrow To Be Busy Day,” Seattle Daily Times, June 11, 1909, p. 4;  “Yakima Visitors Spend Day At Fair,” Ibid.,  June 11, 1909, p. 15;  “Yakima People At Fair,” The Seattle Star, June 11, 1909, p. 13;  “Boys’ Band For A.-Y.-P.” The Yakima Herald, June 9, 1909, p. 6;  David Lynx (Yakima Valley Museum) email to Phil Dougherty, April 29, 2009, in possession of Phil Dougherty, Sammamish, Washington.

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