Midget Village in San Diego 1935

The following is quoted by Richard Amero from "RADIO TALK: The Amusement Zone and Its Attractions" of March 29, 1935.

"A kaleidoscopic city of merry-making soon will rise in Balboa Park, where the Exposition opens May 29. The amusement zone of America's Exposition will present an unrivaled group of fun attractions culled from every part of the world. Bookings are being handled by J. Ed Brown and William (Bill) Barie, noted showmen, who are in charge of shows and concessions for the Exposition. The midway will be 1200 feet long and 350 feet wide, with a 40-foot pavement through the center. The 2400 feet of frontage will present the best shows in existence. Lew Dufour and Joe Rogers, who scored a great hit at the Chicago world's fair with their shows, will produce new and greater shows at San Diego. Their units will include the "Crime Does Not Pay" show, "Two-Headed Baby," "Life", and the "Snake Farm". Dufour and Rogers are also producing shows at the Brussels, Belgium, exposition.

Stella Royal , from SDHS
Stanley R. Graham and Nate Eagle will present those attractions for which they have become famous. Graham and Eagle were prominent in amusement production for A Century of Progress and at many other previous expositions and fairs. They will produce "Midget City", "Midget Farm" and the "Miss America" show, as well as two or three other distinctive features. "Midget City" will be built on doll-house scale, where more than one hundred Lilliputians will work and play. It will have a city hall, hotel, theater, barber shop, beauty parlor, office buildings and other structures and a completely organized civic administration with a mayor, chief of police and fire department. "Midget Farm" will be a novel feature with midget cows, chickens, hogs and horses. It will have midget fields producing midget corn and grain. In a shed will be housed the tiny parade wagons and buggies once owned by Tom Thumb, protˇgˇ of P. T. Barnum. The residents of these colonies will range in age from 18 to 60 years. Some are as short as 18 inches and many weigh less than 20 pounds. They will include dancers, singers, artists and craftsmen. The Midget City News, the world's smallest newspaper, will be published in a midget printing shop each day during the Exposition and current events and features will be presented from the midget viewpoint.

Final plans for the Ripley "Believe-it-or-Not" show are now being formulated by J. Dwight Funk, who announces that the Ripley show at America's Exposition will far surpass the previous Ripley productions. Funk and his partner, Frank Zambreno, will personally manage the "Believe-it-or-Not" show. They also will be co-producers of the "Sensations" unit, an illusion show created solely by the refraction of light and without the use of mirrors. Twenty beautiful girls from all parts of the nation will be seen in this series of animated tableaux. Many art critics and stage producers have commented on the beauty of this attraction.

Actual studio production of motion pictures will be seen at the Exposition. Sixteen Hollywood studio workers will be stationed in the Exposition grounds during the world's fair, where they will produce animated cartoons and other short subjects as they are made in the Hollywood studios. The Studio will be open to Exposition visitors, who will get a first-hand glimpse of the inside of making movies. Visitors not only will see the complete production of these films, but will, also, see the finished product in a movie theater which will form part of the exhibit.

Trinidad Rodriguez , from SDHS
Not located on the midway proper, but part of the amusement zone will be Golden Gulch, a typical gold mining camp of California's days of '49. In a deep, twisting gulch beneath a canopy of trees will be shacks made from actual timbers of the gold rush days. It will be a realistic picture of that era when the names of Jimtown, Hangtown and Whiskey Flat were on the lips of every adventurer from China to Cairo. So faithful will this reproduction be to the originals that the visitor walking the paths of Golden Gulch will imagine himself transported back to the days of ?49, when the name "California" reverberated throughout the world. An old, wooden door, warped by the winds and rains of more that fourscore years, will add a note of realism to the scene, while the Chinese laundry, iron-barred bank, blacksmith shop and hitching posts will line the streets of the camp. Throughout the length of Golden Gulch will be found men and machines performing the tasks common to the era when the cry of "Gold!" was enough to bring men from the heath fires of far-off London and the steppes of Siberia. A further note of realism will be evident by the stage coaches and the burros which will form the only ingress to the camp.

The Venetian Glass Blowers, ten skilled craftsmen from Venice, Italy, will show their unique methods of blowing molten glass into many varied forms and designs. Glass blowing is an art form from the days of the early Egyptians. It flourished during the splendors of medieval Venice, and since that time it has been handed down from father to son. The world-famous Gay's Lion Farm of El Monte, California, will be another attraction of the amusement zone. Ponies from the circus stables of Harry Wooding will play an important part in "Toyland", created especially for the children. The eyes of the show world will be on San Diego this year, with theatrical performers and producers congregating from many lands. The public will find at the California-Pacific International Exposition an unequaled array of midway shows; attractions that are of such outstanding quality that they will obtain the enthusiastic scrutiny of veteran showmen who may previously have concluded that there is nothing new under the sun."

"November 12, 1935. Record set by crowd at Exposition with 83,238; a grand total of 4,784,411 persons have passed through the gates since May 29. Ford exhibit leads at Exposition with 2,722,765; Midget Village was tops among concessions with 375,000."

text from Richard Amero, Balboa Park Research notes 1935, San Diego Historical Society

revised 2/6/01 by Schoenherr | Freaks 1932 film | Filmnotes