Monday, May 2, 2011

The Teen-Age Fair (1962 - 1972)

Here's a fun website!

1966: LA Times photo

In the spring of 1962 the first of 11 consecutive Teen-Age Fairs came to the Los Angeles. 

The first Teenage fair was at POP (Pacific Ocean Park). It was held at April 13 - 23. It attracted 250,000 visitors. 

The second annual  Teen-Age Fair was held at Pickwick Recreation Center in Burbank April 5 - 14, 1963. One highlight of that fair that year was the public demonstration of a rocket belt with which a man could fly more than 100 feet. 

In 1964 the Teen-Age Fair moved to the Hollywood Palladium. 

The Teen Age Fair was a 10-day long event. It promised  hundreds of activities of special interest to teen-agers, including: surfing clinics, hot rod displays, outdoor amusement rides, midway with all the carnival booths, dance contest, a car bash and cramming contest,  yo-yo championship,  Karate exhibition, skydiving and surfing films upstairs in the balcony. The big highlight of the fair was the annual  Miss Teen U.S.A. pageant and the Battle of the Bands competition. 

Miss Teen Finalist 
CSUN digital archives

This winners of the 1965 Battle of the Bands was Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band

The fair was from noon to midnight. Admission was $1.50.  

Emergence of the Youth Market
In 1960's advertisers and retailers realized that teenagers had large amounts of disposable income to spend. Heavy marketing thinkers came up with their  best ideas on how to shape the youth's lifelong consumption patterns and brand identification.

Big advertisers for the fair included Pepsi, Chevrolet, Clairol, Curtiss candy, US Rubber and Coca Cola. Of course they  ran contest and games that featured their products.

Start-up companies tested new product ideas at the Teen-Age Fair such as Hobie Surfboards and Yardley of London with it's mod-look makeup. 

Kustom Kar artist such as Ed 'Big Daddy' Roth, Dean Jeffries and Van Dutch (Kenny Howard) took the LA car culture to a new level of coolness with artwork. Everyone ran out to customize their cars. 

Ed Roth's Rat Fink

Dean Jeffries Monkee Mobile

There was plenty of hi-fi gear and automotive equipment on display.  This is where Mattel premiered it's Creepy Crawlers, Incredible Edibles and Thingmakers. Other fun stuff aimed at a kids were Wham-O Frisbees, SuperBalls and Slip 'n' Slides.  

Teenagers were a huge market. The Teen-Age Fair displayed booths featuring contemporary fashions, custom cars, musical instruments and interior design. The fair was an important advertising medium for reaching the youth market. 

In 1967, the major rock n' roll stations in Los Angeles were KHJ, KRLA and KFWB. They continued to battle it out over the Number 1 position. This competition was played out with an onslaught of  publicity and promotion. 
KHJ was an RKO station that switched to pop/rock format in 1965. It was home of the fictitious Tina Delgado. KHJ was the Boss Radio - meaning anything fabulously wonderful and it's Boss Jocks such as the Real Don Steele and Gary Mack. KHJ aimed at playing the most music a possible. 

KRLA achieved high acclaim for sponsoring the Beatle concert at the Hollywood Bowl. It had the zany and successful disc jockey Dave Hull - the Hullabalooer. KRLA has All Request Radio 

KFWB was once the leader of the pack, but by now it's glory days were behind them. It had contests aimed at forcing the listeners to keep tuned to the station. 
By 1967 there were Teen Age Fairs springing up all over the country. 

In 1967 there was a psychedelic fashion show and a hair coloring demonstration by Clairol. Remember Clairol's Endless Summer?  It launched Nice 'n Easy product line aimed at a younger market. Even guys would use it.

The Times They Were a Changing
In 1967, much of the youth at this time were engaged in building a new counter-culture that wanted no part of what the establishment was selling them. 1969 was a real turning point for the fair. There was a general feeling the Fair had run it's course. 

This was all happening in the mist of and after Dylan, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Haight Ashbury, Hendrix the Airplane Joplin, 1967  Summer of Love, the Democratic Convention of 1968, the growth of the counter culture, Woodstock and the generation gap. The Vietnam war was taking its toll on the country.  There was the emergence of the civil rights movement. The youth were much more politically aware. They developed new modes of dress and new life styles.
Love by Peter Max, 1968

In the late 1960's Hollywood was a very different place - and the youth were in a very different place than they were in 1961. Most were not buying into the products being marketed at them.  

In 1969 the Teen Age Fair became Pop Expo '69.  The entrance fee was now $2.00.

There was still the usual bombardment of  games, tents, carnival booths and rides. This time there was a psychedelic whale ride, a loud motorcycle pit and a psychedelic light show.

The fair tried to bill itself as a Celebration of Life  and  Renaissance of the Arts.  Amongst all the strobe lights and loud rock music,  teenagers could  learn about the Peace Corps, watch abstract student films, track their personality, and test their knowledge about VD. 

Kim Fowley and Michelle Phillips at the Fair
photo source:

There was a rock festival featuring Mama Cass, the Flying Burrito Brothers and Dr. John the Night Tripper. There were nightly jam sessions where people like Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa would showed up. The annual Battle of the Bands was now called a Pop Rock Tournament. 

Across the street Hair played at the Aquarius Theater (former Earl Carroll's Theater).

 This truly was cool

In 1969 the Pop Expo fair attracted 288,635 paying attendees. The record attendance was 301,000 set in 1967. The promoters noticed. But this may be due to the rain on the final two days of the fair. 

In 1970 the Fair struggled ahead. But by 1970 the youth market boom was passe. Teens weren't spending like they were before. Even the new owners (Filmways) were in financial trouble.  

This time the Palladium was all decked out with a hip, striped psychedelic facade. 
This annual teenage spring fling included the usual amusement rides, games, booths and lots of natural and fattening food shops for teens to spend money on. However, the music was now mind blowing and ear piercing. There was the usual carny feel about the whole thing. Or was is just cheesy? Been there done that. 

Kids were looking for all things cosmic

Peter Max - CosmicJumper

Now the most popular section of the Fair was the occult section - especially any booth offering free information in astrology or tarot cards

Time cover: 1972. Photo Credit: Jack and Betty Cheetham

 After all, this was the Age of Aquarius.

Another popular  area was where were young artisans were selling pottery, multi colored frangrant candles, leather goods and other hand made wares.

Inside the Palladium hall there was highly powered music playing while fashion shows were going on.  Amateur films were being shown up in the balcony. 

1972 was the 11th and final year of the TeenAge Fair (now called Pop Expo). 
This time there was an Environment Center with ecological exhibits and a Health Happening Exhibit that emphasized natural organic foods. Kids weren't buying into it like they did before. 

There was the annual Miss Teen USA beauty contest, the carnival style midway, and cosmetic oriented Beauty Clinics.  But it was obvious that the Teen-Age Fair was out of style with the interest of the current batch of teenagers. 

Woodstock, 1969
source: TimeLife

Presidential Appearances

In December 1961 President Kennedy was a guest at a $100-a-plate Democratic Party dinner at the Hollywood Palladium. The entertainment was by Nelson Riddle and his Orchestra, Nat King Cole and Ralph Bellamy. While in town Kennedy stayed at the Beverly Hilton but spent time with his sister Pat, the wife of actor Peter Lawford

President Kennedy came again to the Palladium in 1963 for a $1000-a-couple plate dinner.

In January of 1962 former President Eisenhower addressed the L.A. Chamber of Commerce at the Palladium.

1965 photo: LA Times


  1. My father Frank Danzig produced the Teen Age Fairs and this is a truly correct history that period of history. Where did you get all the information on it? You might be missing one piece. When Martin Luther King was shot there was a riot at the Teen Age Fair...I can't remember what was involved but I think the box office was stormed.
    My father ( Frank Danzig) and his partner sold the fair to Filmways productions.

  2. Thanks so much for the comment! At the top is a link to the source of this info.

  3. The teenage fair was one of the highlights of being a teen. My parents weren't afraid to leave us off on Hollywood Blvd back then. Everyone I knew was either at or going to the fair. It was the talk at Walter Reed Jr High. Mr Mallley always took time to listen to our adventures at the teenage fair, not to mention the famous turtle races in the hallway he had for the students. These are great memories of a time gone by.

  4. Those were the days, my friend.
    We thought they'd never end...
    Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Gary!