Each week leading up to our 50th Anniversary, we’re bringing you stories from the community about the history of Hemisfair. William R “Bill” Sinkin was instrumental in bringing HemisFair ’68 to life. He was also a staunch proponent of civil rights and a strong environmentalist, leading him to create Build San Antonio Green and Solar San Antonio. This memory comes courtesy of http://www.worldsfair68.info/, where you can read the entire interview in the “Conversations” section of that website.
(Hemisfair) all began with the election of my good friend Henry B Gonzalez to the U.S. House of Representatives in the fall of 1960. He was interested in creating a 20th century plan for the 20th congressional district to revitalize San Antonio and make it into a popular tourism destination. He felt a great way to get started was to have some type of fair; not knowing then that the end result would be a World’s Fair. When I asked him what he had in mind he said that it would be my job to come up with the ideas and support and he would work to find federal funds to help pay for it.
Shortly after meeting with Congressman Gonzalez, I called a meeting of forty or so of the top business leaders in San Antonio. After some discussion our first unanimous vote was to spend a year going into the community of every sector and culture and see what we could develop. Not long after, word began to spread and people started calling in with ideas.
One year later in the fall of 1963 we had a meeting at the Menger Hotel with over 250 local leaders and business people and presented our ideas and findings. With a positive vote we proceeded to raise funds for a formal study on the feasibility of hosting a Fair type event. When the study came back with a great outlook, the committee again voted unanimously for the idea of a World’s Fair to celebrate the city’s 250th birthday in 1968.
Early on several members of the Executive Committee myself included made many trips to the nations of Latin America to promote the Fair. We also had a publicity department full of competent, energetic artist and designers from around the country and from Mexico. They were instrumental in creating many of the promotional material we presented to the foreign nations and corporations whom were interested in participating in HemisFair.
Overall the entire experience was a wonderful experience which brought the residents of San Antonio together to pursue the common dream of HemisFair ’68 and helped to put San Antonio on the map as a popular tourism destination.
We hope you’ll join us on Friday, Saturday and Sunday April 6-8 as we celebrate our 50th Anniversary with ¡Viva Hemisfair! If you’ve got a memory of Hemisfair from the last 50 years, we’d love to hear about at hemisfair.org/memories.