Fairs, Festivals and Exhibitions

Phonographs at State Fairs, County Fairs and Local Exhibitions


By Doug Boilesen, 2024

To promote the phonograph as a consumer product the phonograph industry and its dealers were always looking for opportunities to demonstrate their machines and compete for recognition that their machines and records were the best. World's Fairs, State Fairs and County Fairs were all venues were gold ribbons and recognition could be sought to enhance the reputation of their brand.

Phonographia.com has specific galleries for World's Fairs such as the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1889 and the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

This gallery is about the smaller venues of state and county fairs and other local exhibitions and festivals where the phonograph could be seen on public display often in the context of other products also being shown.

Advertising was heavily encouraged by the major phonograph trade publications such the The Phonoscope, The Talking Machine World, The Voice of the Victor, The Columbia Record, and the Edison Phonograph Monthly and articles included writing about the benefits of participating at fairs and public shows.

The following are examples from some of those trade magazines. Other popular culture ephemera such as postcards and consumer magazines related to the phonograph at fairs, festivals and public expositions are also displayed.


Benefits from Fair Exhibits

"As an attraction for the crowds the talking machine is unexcelled" and while the Bard Bros. exhibit at the recent West Virginia State Fair was "not elaborate, the booth is attractive, and goes to show what can be done in that line at minimum expense."


The Talking Machine World, October 1908 - West Virginia State Fair talking machine booth of Bard Bros.


Postcard of Bard Bros. Booth, West Virginia State Fair, 1908 (PM-1233).



New Use for Phonograph at Indiana State Fair


The Talking Machine World, October 1908


Get After the Farmer by Exhibiting at County Fairs


Excerpt from September's The Voice of the Victor. (The Talking Machine World, October 1908)


The Leipzig Trade Fair


Peterstraße during the Leipzig Fair, auto wagon advertising "Lyrophon Werk" gramophone, 1910 postcard.