As part of the Stanislaus County Fair’s centennial celebration, an effort to confirm rumors of a hidden time capsule in the fairground’s historic arch gate was conducted on Saturday morning in a ceremonial fashion.
Local lore has said that there may be something hidden in the pillars of Stanislaus County fairgrounds’ historic arch gate, placed by the construction workers, American Legion Rex Ish Post 88 members and its Auxiliary members. However, many community members questioned the validity of the rumor because of such little historic documentation.
The capsule was believed to have been buried 82 years ago on April 16, 1929 during the dedication of the just-built arch gate. While researching the history of the century-old fair, a publication from the Turlock Historical Society, the Turlock Pioneer, from 1999 was found, mentioning a time capsule placed behind one of the steel Legion and Auxiliary shields that adorn the pillars, though no one seems to know for sure which one.
Stanislaus County Fair CEO Chris Borovansky and Board President Jack Wilkey led the special event attended by Fair officials, Fair staff, Turlock Mayor John Lazar, other dignitary representatives, members of the American Legion and Auxiliary, and members of the general public who were all interested to see if there was indeed at least one time capsule hidden in the arch gate behind one of the two shields.
Fair maintenance worker Dennis Nichols went right to task with a big wrench after the short ceremony. After wrenching off three big bolts, the first shield was pulled off and there was an old glass jar sitting in a carved out area in the cement arch gate pillar. It was still uncertain if there was another time capsule in the pillar on the other side of the gate. When that shield was removed, those in attendance were still shocked even after seeing the first one unveiled when there was another glass jar with contents in it.
In the glass jars were scrolls made of old fabric listing the American Legion Rex Ish Post 88 Unit and Auxiliary members from the 1929 era when the arch gate was constructed and provided by the American Legion in 1929.
Another document of the American Legion’s history from 1924-31 was also included in one of the glass jars, raising a question from a person in attendance.
"If it’s dated 1931, how’d it get in there in 1929?"
So maybe the time capsules were not put in during the 1929 construction of the fairground’s arch gate as suspected, but even if they were put in after the initial construction, they were a historical surprise and treat found on Saturday morning.
American Legion Rex Ish Post 88 Commander Bob Russell and Auxiliary President Donna Hedstrom were present as the contents of their organizations’ 80 year old time capsules were revealed before the crowd of about 100 people.
Stanislaus County Fair CEO Chris Borovansky announced that the time capsules and their contents would be turned over to the Turlock Historical Society.
Turlock Mayor John Lazar spoke at the time capsule unveiling saying “This is a great day for Turlock, the Stanislaus County Fair has been a staple of our city for many years. I believe it’s the best fair in the state of California!”
“This is a great way to kick-off our Fair’s centennial celebration,” said Adrenna Alkhas, spokesperson for the Stanislaus County Fair and organizer of the event.
As the Stanislaus County Fair celebrates its centennial, a new time capsule will be buried at the fairgrounds to be opened in 100 years. The new time capsule won’t be placed where the old ones were placed now that people know about the hidden cavities and it’s not certain what will be placed inside the new time capsule.
American Legion Commander Bob Russell contributed two bullet shells from the gun salute that was given during the ceremony toward the 2011 centennial time capsule.
More information on the new Fair time capsule and other centennial events can be found at the Fair’s website, www.stancofair.com, or will be release soon as the 10 day long Fair begins July 15, 2011.