This Throwback Thursday we are looking back at a Friday from 50 years ago, when Belleville was just turning 150.
Just like the 200th being celebrated this weekend or the 175th, Belleville marked its sesquicentennial with beer, music and food. Shuffle through the old photos and you’d think you landed in an episode of “Leave it to Beaver,” with sport coats, pearls and hats as common then as tattoos and Harley T-shirts are now.
The three-day Sesquicentennial Street Fair opened on Sept. 11, 1964, with square dancing on the Public Square, followed by everyone dancing on the square. Saturday night featured a large parade of floats and antique vehicles highlighting transportation. Then they danced again.
And, oh, the pageant: “From These Our Roots.” For four performances it filled the new Belle Clair Exposition Hall at the fairgrounds with a cast of nearly 600 including the Belleville Philharmonic Orchestra and schoolchildren singing German songs.
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There was an art show in the alley behind the old St. Clair County Courthouse. The ivy-covered fence upon which the artwork hung also enclosed the jail yard.
The state’s historical society held their convention at Augustines, there was a health fair at Fischer’s Restaurant and they held a stamp show at the old Turner Hall. There was a tour of local landmarks.
For a contest, they invited men to show off their fancy or rough beards. One bearded guy showed up dressed like Fidel Castro.
You can still find souvenirs from the 150th — trivets, glassware and the souvenir booklet, “Reflections,” floating around town. If you’ve never seen the booklet, we have it here in a PDF.