The National Orange Show Events Center is a continuation, with some modifications, of a non-profit association formed in 1910. The National Orange Showwas launched with the purpose of being an asset to California’s citrus fruit industry. A permanent location for the show in San Bernardino was selected in 1923 in the area south of Mill Street between Arrowhead Avenue and “E” street. Construction of permanent improvements on this property, financed by a bond issue, was started the following year.
The first permanent National Orange Show exhibition hall had almost 100,000 square feet of floor space and was the largest structure of its type in California. Sadly however, in July 1949, the building was completely destroyed by fire. By March of 1950, a new and larger exhibition building was ready for use. Shortly after, two additional buildings, one for commercial and industrial exhibits and the other for feature exhibits and trade shows, were built on the property. As the years progressed, more and more buildings were added to the Orange Show property including administrative buildings, an auditorium, and a dining center.
Each year, the directors and governors of the Orange show attempted to add a new dimension to the National Orange Show as a venue for year-round activity. By 1977, use of Orange Show grounds during the fair’s off-season, had exceeded one million individuals. Interim activities held on the fair grounds varied from swap meets and trailer rallies to picnics and fire and police training exercises. In 1979 when San Bernardino Valley College informed the Orange Show that it would no longer use the Stadium for football games, the auto race schedule was expanded to become a permanent feature of the Stadium.
In 1987, an off-track betting facility was opened on the fairgrounds, attracting over 1,600 bettors per day. In addition to rentals throughout the year, the National Orange Show had about three major tenants at this point—car racing, the swap meet, and a restaurant operator. In the nineties, National Orange Show management began an aggressive marketing campaign to improve their interim non-show activities. In an effort to clarify the image of the National Orange Show, the name of the site was changed to the National Orange Show Events Center, thought to be more descriptive of the facility in general.
The current National Orange Show Events Center spans over 120 acres and offers 150,000 square feet of indoor exhibit space, a quarter mile speedway, state-of-the-art satellite wagering center, and can accommodate more than 40,000 attendees and park approximately 8,000 cars. The center continues to carry out its mission to promote and preserve the citrus industry; manage and operate year-round recreational and cultural facilities to attract special events focusing on education and family entertainment; and support the community through charitable programs , scholarships, and active community involvement.
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