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The Oregon State Fair Sign Painter
 

Gordon Stewart, his wife Jeannette, and their two children moved to Salem in 1968.  The Salem economy was still depressed when, in 1969, he was hired by the Oregon State Fair as its official sign painter.  He was set up in a small house on the Fairgrounds, called the caretaker's shack.  It had been used in times past for those fair participants who came and stayed at the fair for its duration. 

To attract people to attend the fair, sharp signage with fresh paint soon had people talking about coming to the fair.  Stewart would put in 14 hours a day or more to meet fair deadlines, hand-painting all the signs.  Rain often made it difficult  get the paint dry in time to put up the signs.  The little caretaker shack was where the signs were laid out and painted, then put out to dry, weather permitting. In those days, signs were all hand painted, there were no computers to aid in the design.

Gordon Stewart continued to rent the Fairgrounds shack until 1975, when he needed to find a location which allowed for the lettering of vehicles.  Stewart had a hand-painting sign business in Salem for 30 years from which he never retired.  At the time he died at age 73, there were freshly painted signs to be delivered to waiting customers.

 
Signs direct people at the fair
 
Dragon sign warned of danger
Signs are important at the Fair to let people know where to go for various services and attractions.
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"The Dragon" at the Fair was created by Stewart to warn children that there was dangerous electrical equipment in this location.  Many kids remember the Dragon fondly
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Oregon State Fair sign
 
Sign for 1970 state fair
Sign announcing the 1972 State Fair
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Sign announcing the 1970 State Fair
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Bibliography:
Photos and information provided by Jeannette Stewart, August, 2001

 

 
Gordon and Jeannette Stewart
Gordon and Jeannette Stewart
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Sign Painter's house on Fairgrounds
Sign Painter's house on State Fairgrounds
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Fair signs drying
Signs outside the caretakers shack with Stewart Signs on building
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