1960s Los Angeles: State-based picnics

My parents both moved to Los Angeles in the 1960s from the Midwest. Through family lore and studying bits of California history here and there, I know that this immigration into Southern California was pretty common at that time. I was just speaking to my parents and my dad made a casual comment about how the “Los Angeles Iowa picnic” always had hordes of people attending.

Wait a sec….Iowa picnic? What’s that? My mom chimed in, “oh all the states had picnics back then. I remember hearing about the Minnesota picnic when I first moved here.” This just blows my mind. That there was such an influx of people moving here from other states that they would organize city-wide picnics, based on state affiliation! Woah. I had a million questions….How did you find out about the picnics? Who organized them? Where were they held? Who funded it? My parents couldn’t quite remember the details. My mom thinks she rememebrs ads in the LA Times and that it was just a bunch of locals organizing it. Perhaps they asked for a few dollars to help pay for costs? She mentioned McArthur Park…

There is a history here! Does anyone out there know more? What amazes me most is the state-affiliation, which means there was a very strong sense of identity associated with being from a particular state. And yet, they left! I bet these people were trying to find and build a bit of their local community here in L.A.

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