By its very name, the 1984 Louisiana World’s Fair indicated that the world would be represented. Numerous foreign countries promoted themselves to fairgoers through exhibits and activities featuring traditional arts, artifacts and crafting techniques as well as vivid imagery (through both photographs and film) of their countries.
Japan was the first foreign country to commit to the fair, in January 1983. The entrance to the 20,000-square-foot pavilion featured a mural, carp streamers and mechanical musical dolls. There were Japanese gardens, computer technology demonstrations, a traditional fireworks display and many artisans and performers demonstrating traditional craft and arts, such as Ikebana (flower arranging), folk songs, festival dances and Kabuki theater.
The China Pavilion was the largest international pavilion, and included a journey through ancient China and a traditional garden complete with a pagoda, red lanterns and a carp pond. Displays of Chinese culture and commerce complemented live demonstrations of artisans displaying papermaking, silk birdmaking and chop carving.
The Caribbean Pavilion housed three countries: Honduras, Belize and the Dominican Republic. It was full of artifacts and art, an exhibit on coastal marine life and showcased a 77-year-old woodcraftsman fashioning a dugout canoe from mahogany. Their tropical rum and beer bar and daily live music made them a regular stop for fair attendees.
The Korea Pavilion presented Korea’s past, present and future. A replica of a 16th-century turtle ship and a reconstruction of a 1,500-year-old Shilla Dynasty watercourse led to a display of computer technology, followed by a promotional feature on the upcoming 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.
The international exhibits proved to be very popular with fairgoers, with the Korean folk dancers, the Canadian IMAX movie River Journey and the Japanese and Vatican Pavilions receiving the highest praise.
Note: This is Part 4 of a yearlong focus on the 1984 Louisiana World’s Fair.
Participating nations of the 1984 Louisiana World’s Fair: Australia, Belgium, Belize, Canada, China, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Liberia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, the Netherlands, the UK, the US and the Vatican.
The 1984 Louisiana World’s Fair approached its international exhibitors differently than previous world’s fairs. Instead of independent structures for each country, many (but not all) of them would have exhibition space inside the newly constructed 380,000-square-foot International Pavilion. After the fair closed, the International Pavilion was developed as planned into the Riverwalk shopping complex and a cruise ship terminal. Riverwalk opened on August 28, 1986.