This 1968 news footage for San Antonio’s WOAI-TV captures three Indigenous dancers blessing the site where they will later perform the Danza de los Voladores de Papantla, or Dance of Papantla’s Flyers, at HemisFair in San Antonio. Traditionally performed by the Totonac and Olmeca Indians in Mexico as an act of worship, the Danza is a ritualistic dance in which four men tied to ropes revolve around a 114-foot pole. The show was one of the main highlights at the 1968 World’s Fair.
The 1968 Hemisfair was a World's Fair held in San Antonio to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the city's founding. It was the first World's Fair to be held in the southwest, and its theme was "Confluence of Civilizations in the Americas." From April 6th to October 6th, 1968, the Hemisfair welcomed over 6 million visitors. Famous attendees included Bob Hope, Louis Armstrong, Princess Grace of Monaco, President Johnson and his family, and Texas Governor John Connally. There were many attractions including exhibits, a monorail, a lagoon, and a variety of performances. Perhaps the most controversial was a show called the "Flying Indians of Papantla," during which four men tied to ropes revolved down a 114-foot pole. The complaints stemmed from a mock sacrifice at the beginning of the show, which involved a chicken and a topless woman. This was swiftly edited out of the show.
The popular River Walk was extended in order to meet the site of the fair, and many new buildings were constructed in the downtown area to accommodate exhibitions from over thirty countries and fifteen organizations. Some of these buildings remain, most notably the Tower of the Americas, which was the main symbol of the fair. The area is now known as HemisFair Park.