TRULY HISTORIC ~ TIMELESS EVENTS
The Cow Palace is operated by the District Agriculture Association 1-A, under the supervision of the State of California Department of Food and Agriculture, Division of Fairs and Expositions. As District 1-A, the Cow Palace is the very first of 54 Fairground Associations in California! It was inspired by the extremely popular livestock pavillion at the Pan Pacific Exposition and World's Fair in 1915 and ultimately built during the Great Depression of the 1930s under the New Deal WPA "Works Progress Administration" program. The Cow Palace first opened in 1941 during World War II, when it was almost immediately pressed into service to support soldiers bound for the Pacific Theater.
Since opening in 1941, the Cow Palace has welcomed over 50 million visitors, seamlessly hosting countless events, concerts, rallies, and celebrations. Over more than 75 years, the Cow Palace has hosted many significant moments in US History and popular culture. See below to learn more about the Cow Palace's place in the history of Rock and Roll, Politics, Agriculture, Sports, Entertainment, Festivals and Special Events.
"History is alive at the Cow Palace!
Its lessons must be preserved for the
education and inspiration of future generations."
Explore the slide show below to discover more than 30
little-known and historic moments at the Cow Palace!
Rock 'n Roll History
In the 1960s the Beatles played their very first U.S. tour date at the Cow Palace. The arena concert came of age at the Cow Palace with countless other major music events from the Rolling Stones to the Beach Boys, from the Jackson 5 to Elvis Presley, The Who, the Grateful Dead, KISS, Van Halen, Prince, U2, Nirvana, and many many more.
Agricultural & Rodeo History
Beginning its long history as a Livestock Pavilion, the Cow Palace has continued to serve the agricultural community of California and the West. With agriculture still the largest economic sector in the State, the Cow Palace has a unique opportunity to support and inform as well as entertain and inspire. The youth of today need to know where their food comes from, and perhaps take an interest in becoming a much needed future farmer of America.
The Cow Palace has been home to many sports including boxing and wrestling, soccer, basketball, ice hockey, pro tennis, and even roller derby! Hosting athletes from Wilt Chamberlain to John McEnroe, the Cow Palace was the original West Coast home of the San Francisco Warriors (later the NBA’s Golden State Warriors). Other sports teams included the San Jose / Golden Bay Earthquakes, San Francisco Seals, San Jose Sharks, and San Francisco Bulls.
Fairs, Festivals & Circus History
Since its opening, the Cow Palace has hosted many recurring events that have contributed to the rich tapestry of culture in the San Francisco Bay Area. Past annual events include the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus, and the Exotic Erotic Ball.
Current annual events with a lengthy tenure at the Cow Palace include The Great Dickens Christmas Fair, and the Golden Gate Kennel Club Dog Show.
Major political events hosted at the Cow Palace include the 1956 and 1964 Republican National Conventions, historic appearances by then Senator John F. Kennedy where he announced his plans for "A Peace Corps," and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking and educating the world about the critical importance of the Civil Rights Amendment.