The Fair Grounds: A Thanksgiving Tradition

The New Orleans Fair Grounds began operation in their current location in 1852 as the Union Race Course, making it the oldest site of racing in America still in operation. The racing season is traditionally kicked off at the Fair Grounds on Thanksgiving Day, so ladies, it’s time to get your fancy hats ready.

Special Collections & Archives is home to a few pieces of horse-racing memorabilia.  The Elizabeth Adolph Collection of Early 20th Century New Orleans Sports Memorabilia contains two printed silk programs from the Crescent City Jockey Club dated 1904 and 1906. The Crescent City Jockey Club was established in 1892 at what is now the New Orleans Fair Grounds.  For 16 years, the club ran a winter racing season from mid-December until early April. However, in 1908 Louisiana passed a state law which halted horse racing in New Orleans for a time.  While the club held on to their lease at the fair grounds for several years hoping that racing would be allowed to return, they eventually had to liquidate their assets in the spring of 1913.

While the Fair Grounds are now famously home to Jazz Fest, in 1899 they were also home to the Louisiana Industrial Exposition and Peace Jubilee, “The 1st Annual Exposition…held under the auspices of the New Orleans Progressive Union, in the City of New Orleans, May 8th to 31st inclusive, 1899 .” The fair was repeated in 1900, but seems to have ceased after that date.

To view these items in their entirety, contact Loyola University Special Collections & Archives at archives@loyno.edu or come see us on the third floor of the Monroe Library.

Found in the Archives is a recurring series of crazy cool stuff found in the Monroe Library’s Special Collections & Archives.

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