(Photo: Iris Mazel)

(Photo: Iris Mazel)

By Rachel Neiman - May 6, 2019

This week, Tel Aviv welcomed the first of the contestants in the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, here to rehearse in preparation for the competition which commences on May 14.

They may not be aware that their venue – the Expo Tel Aviv, formerly called the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds – has a history that stretches back almost to the city’s founding, with a symbol that has become wholly identified with the “nonstop city.”

Since the mid-19th century, expositions and fairs have been an engine for trade and relations between countries. As early as 1898, an “International Scientific, Industrial and Philanthropic Fair” was planned as part of the celebration of the German Kaiser’s visit to Ottoman Empire-era Jerusalem, according to philatelic historian Dr. Arthur Groten.

While that fair never took place, agricultural exhibitions in the Yishuv (the early modern Jewish settlement) were held on a regional basis. After World War I, under the British Mandate, regional fairs were held throughout the Near East.

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