Politics, patriotism, pageantry : performing power at the Texas Cotton Palace, 1910-1930.


This study specifically examines the Texas Cotton Palace Exposition of 1910-1930 as a performative event reflecting, endorsing, and reinforcing cultural attitudes and priorities of select groups within the Waco community. The Cotton Palace in those years was an expansive exhibition, incorporating elements of fair, public drama, parade, concert, landscape spectacle, carnival, and educational exhibit. Throughout the Texas Cotton Palace Exposition, the performance of power and the promotion of civic virtue were demonstrated to the community through a variety of performative elements enacted by or evocative of iconic characters. This study will therefore consider King Cotton’s political perpetuation of the pastoral ideal in parades and visual rhetoric, Uncle Sam’s rousing wartime displays of patriotism in the form of battle reenactments and the prominence of service members in key events, and the Queen of Waco’s endorsement of the community elite through the allegorical pageantry and exclusivity of the Queen’s Ball.

Texas Cotton Palace. Waco, Texas. King Cotton.