If you live anywhere near Pomona, you know there’s plenty of action for a Fairplex campus event photographer – and not just during the L.A. County Fair, but year-round. There’s a tremendous amount of value in obtaining quality event photography from functions at the facility, which is apparent when you look back at important points on a historical timeline.
The Fairplex is a nonprofit venue hosting more than 3 million people every year. There are 487 acres in Pomona belonging to the L.A. County Fair Association, but the facility is used January through December for flea markets, business conferences, festivals and trade shows. A seasoned Fairplex campus event photographer has an incredibly wide breadth of work available in a variety of industries.
The best Fairplex campus event photographer adheres to the values of the nonprofit L.A. County Fair Association.
It’s the site of the Chinese Lantern Festival, half marathons, Jurassic Quest, RV Shows, the Los Angeles Boat Show, the Great Train Show – and a host of new events – every year. The aim of Fairplex executives is to be the center of community and the creator of memories through agriculture, education, commerce, arts and entertainment.
Because the Fairplex is committed to “doing good” in the community, benefiting the public and putting guests first, those who partner with the organization expect to interface with upstanding professionals, including a Fairplex campus event photographer or any other outside vendor.
The 501(c)(3) is also committed to sustainability, maintaining a solid financial outlook and environmentally-friendly practices on its grounds. The event venue’s charter details a primary objective to advance and promote:
• Industrial/other L.A. County interests
• Operation of fairs and expositions for the exhibition of livestock, poultry, household, fine arts, education and more
• Land development and improvements benefiting the L.A. County Fair
The Fairplex began as the L.A. County Fair almost 100 years ago. The town of Pomona was the setting of a railroad carnival, a merchants’ exposition and a tent show, which created an opportunity to make the public aware of Pomona’s attractive features.
Through fundraising photography and local news articles, we have an account of the Fairplex development from the beginning. A journalist overheard two businessmen talking at a Lions Club meeting about establishing a fair in the area. He printed the idea in the paper, so one of those men – L.E. Sheets, who had helped with fairs in Iowa – presented the plan to the Pomona Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber members brought it to the City Council’s attention, and Sheets became president of the first board of the L.A. County Fair.
The City of Pomona purchased 43 acres of beets and barley fields from an estate owned by Ricardo Vejar. They sold stock to some local businessmen for $28,000, but pledges for just $23,000 were realized. The committee got personal loans from local banks for an additional $15,000.
Since it opened in 1922, The first fair ran from October 17-21, 1922. Hotels were filled, as 49,461 visitors came to the fair, and the cost of production was $63,000. There were events from harness and chariot racing to airplane wing-walking. In 1925, fair attendance exceeded 100,000.
Thanks to professional galas, awards and fundraisers photography, we can see images of L.A. County Fair Queens through the years.
The L.A. County Fair crowned its first queen in 1929, though Edna Mae Paige did not go through formal competition for the title. They created “fair royalty” for promotional purposes.
You can view a series of historical photos including the 1932 queen and her court on Picnic Hill and the opening of the Grandstand at the Fairplex in a public power point about the fairgrounds.
An article about Carolyn Bushnell of Glendora – L.A. County Fair Queen from 1960 – describes in detail what it took to win the pageant. About 900 women, students of Mt. San Antonio College, took part in the competition. They were interviewed one-on-one with judges, dressed in the formality of the 1950s-60s, including hats and gloves. Bushnell said it wasn’t a typical pageant – judges focused on the “inner beauty” of contestants.
Like the Pasadena Tournament of Roses queen and her court, the L.A. County Fair held parades to show off their royalty in an open horse-drawn carriage. The royal court later rode in convertibles down the street ahead of the queen’s coach, and in 1949, the L.A. Fair even had a float in the Rose Parade.
A professional event photographer was assigned to capture the award ceremonies and the promotional activities of the court. Websites have posted pictures of the L.A. Fair queen and her princesses interacting with farm animals, fruits and vegetables, symbolizing the importance of agriculture in the county. Though there is no longer a queen-and-court competition at the Los Angeles Fair, bands and various groups still march in parades during the festivities each year.
There have been other opportunities for great red carpet and PR photography over the years, such as in 1934, when the famous cowboy actor Montie Montana married actress Louise Archer in front of the grandstand. Fair crowds that year bumped up to 334,759 visitors.
There had been a downturn in attendees in 1933 because of the Great Depression, and there was no L.A. County Fair from 1942-1948 due to World War II. During that time, the property belonged to the U.S. Army and was used as a motor base, housing 5,428 Japanese-Americans for a time. It became a desert training center and housed German and Italian prisoners-of-war as well.
As an incubator for new ideas, Fairplex campus event photographers have had to jump through a lot of hoops in the last six decades.
Bringing together some of the most creative minds in the country, the L.A. County Fair is a breeding ground for marketing genius.
The world’s largest man-made ski jump made with artificial snow was featured at the Fair in 1951. The take-off area for skiers was as high as 225 feet with a downward slope of 500 feet.
In April of the next year the National Hot Rod Association held its first sanctioned event at the far corner of the grounds, the Southern California Championship Drag Races, at Pomona Raceway. There were 375 cars running a total of 850 timed runs.
Sporting event photography captured the start of an international sensation in 1955 when L.A. County Fair exhibitor Fred Morrison sold flying disks which were picked up by college friends Richard Knerr and Arthur Melin. They negotiated the rights to manufacture it for their relatively small mail-order company called Wham-O. The “Pluto Platter” came on the market in 1957 and was later renamed the “Frisbee.”
Water skiing demonstrations came to Pomona in 1964 with the completion of the Sports Plaza Marina. There was also a clubhouse section built into the racetrack grandstand, with indoor/outdoor seating.
It was 1984 when the name was changed to the Fairplex. Corporate events photography would give the world a window into its 105,500 square feet of indoor exhibit space and its use year-round as an exposition complex.
The half-mile bullring was expanded to almost a mile, which provided a big boost to racing fans, as it hosted the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) Winston Select Finals. A single-day record attendance of 177,612 people went to the fair in 1985.
Conventions and events photography captured the last 25 years at the Sheraton Suites Fairplex Hotel.
When it first opened its doors in 1992, the Sheraton hotel had 247 suites. It was a necessary addition to the complex to accommodate business men and women attending conventions, meetings and retreats.
When the Twin Towers came down on Sept. 11, 2001 the fair closed – it was the first time since World War II that it shut down, but it reopened the following day.
A decade later, the complex saw more than business as usual, when the Fairplex underwent big changes. In 2012, the Sheraton Fairplex Conference Center held its first function, which national conference photography reveals has greatly increased the facility’s scope.
Because of its proximity to Southern California business and entertainment attractions, on-site dining options and renovated guest suites, the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel and Conference Center in Pomona is utilized by large corporations, while also retaining personal bookings for smaller crowds.
Planning agencies such as Event Solutions book the Fairplex for clients, per their needs and budget concerns. A leader in the event planning industry, their staff members include planners, producers, designers and marketers.
One of the company’s award-winning blogs talks about budgeting for events, with the following suggestions:
- Figure out the number of guests you’re hosting. You need a rough estimate to support your preparation until formal RSVPs come in. A professional party planner has experience with this process.
- Calculate the size of venue you’ll need.
- Estimate the food and beverages that match the nature of your event.
- Figure out nature and size of seating needed.
- Hire entertainment and staff to manage the crowd.
There is a series of questions you can ask while in the planning stages, to address details of the event.
Do you have to bring in lighting? Get details on what’s included and what isn’t – your Fairplex campus event photographer may need to bring specialized equipment.
Is permitting necessary? If you’re serving alcohol or have unusual entertainment, such as acrobatics, you may have to obtain permits. Find out the cost of those.
Do you need conventions exhibits photography or a professional with experience in bands and musicians photography?
Will there be any taxes incurred for your event?
What is the cost for utilities at the venue? Water and power may be an added expense, particularly if you have a light show or entertainment such as a water show.
When event entertainment services include live music, comedians, hypnotists or variety acts, you need skilled concerts and live performances photography.
It can be an anniversary party or Veterans Day events – when there’s specialized entertainment involved, a Fairplex campus event photographer will need a special set of skills.
Sponsors and exhibitors at the Asian American Expo and the Pomona Home Garden Show require conventions and trade shows photography for social media marketing. Exploring event photographers in Los Angeles can give planners an edge if they look for appropriate experience.
For instance, local Earth Day events posed challenges when CicLAvia rolled through the San Gabriel Valley. It was a non-profit event that closes L.A. roads to cars, allowing cyclists, skaters, runners and pedestrians to enjoy them. The streets were spinning with activity, so event photographers needed Nikes to catch everything happening in San Dimas, LaVerne, Pomona and Claremont.
And like other sporting event photography, being agile is a requirement for a Fairplex campus event photographer covering soccer matches on its four FIFA-regulated, lighted fields. They serve the community for all levels of play, offering hourly flat rates for rental, and comfortable seating for spectators.
From the Farm at Pomona Fairplex to the Auto Club Raceway, visitors, fans and hosts rely on photo products to enjoy the memories later and to give them a longer promotional shelf-life. That’s why a Fairplex campus event photographer is a valuable part of the planning process.