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Colonial Fair 1925: exotic products in Lausanne

Published on 2/5/2016 by
Comptoir Suisse 1925 Foire internationale des produits coloniaux et exotiques

An African village and exotic products, which the people living in Switzerland in 1925 had only ever heard of from history books: the first International Fair for Colonial Products had everyone heading for Lausanne.

The organisers of the "Comptoir Suisse" were particularly annoyed with one item of news that reached them from Bern in 1925. Only a 100 kilometres or so away it had been decided to arrange another national agricultural show – and, to make matters worse, it too was to be held in September. Given that the new show would be in direct competition with the Comptoir, the organisers of the latter were afraid that fewer visitors would attend their event in Lausanne.

"Products, we had only ever encountered before in our history books"

In taking up the challenge thrown down by the new rivals, the organising committee adopted an idea put forward by the then director, Henri Muret, and set up an International Fair for Colonial and Exotic Products from 27 June to 26 July 1925. Fifteen countries presented their products, including the Belgian Congo and Belgium, Columbia, Greece, France and Italy, Costa Rica, Spain, Guatemala and Japan, Portugal, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and Turkey. On 29 June 1925, the "La Revue" newspaper enthusiastically reported: "A plethora of products, the likes of which we had only ever encountered before in arid lists in our history books. True visual instruction for our schoolchildren!"

Senegal meets Lausanne

The highlight was an African village from Senegal. The fair turned out to be a huge success and at the same time provided an opportunity to open new horizons for trade and indigenous industry.

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