April 8, 1929
Starting in 1924, commercial fairs were held in Tel Aviv to showcase the industrial and commercial activity of the Jewish yishuv in Palestine. The 1929 Palestine and Near East Exhibition was the last of four smaller exhibitions which would eventually become (in 1932) the Levant Fair or Orient Fair (Yerid Hamizrach). The Fair grew to the point that in 1934 a permanent fairground was constructed in the city.
The fair was designed to promote the agricultural and industrial products of the yishuv while creating new marketplaces for those products abroad. In addition, the fair used the large gatherings as a way to promote the yishuv’s developing culture, highlighting achievements in education, social welfare and the arts.
Celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the founding of Tel Aviv was central to the Fair. In opening the exhibition on April 8th, Tel Aviv Mayor Meir Dizengoff proclaimed, “…Tel Aviv is showing what the Jews in Palestine have achieved in the fields of industry, agriculture and education during such a short period.” (Palestine Exhibition Opens in Tel Aviv on 20th Anniversary of Founding, April 10, 1929, Jewish Telegraphic Agency)
A larger celebration for the city was held on May 2nd which featured, among other events, a parade of native born children of the city. Following the parade, Dizengoff presented the first child to be born in the city with a special certificate.
For the newly renamed Levant Fair in 1932, a new logo (a flying camel) was instituted to represent the connection between east and west. The 1932 Fair was also the first to include official government representation from foreign countries. Despite the great success of these fairs, the Arab Riots of 1936-1939 and World War II led to the fair’s decline. They were resumed in 1959.
The photo shows a poster from the 1929 Palestine and Near East Exhibition.
To see a video of the 1932 fair from the Spielberg Jewish Film Archive at Hebrew university, click here.