GU Planning Events, Efforts to Commemorate Expo ’74’s 50th Anniversary

Logo of Spokane's 74th Expo, with the byline "50th celebration"
Spokane's Expo+50

March 07, 2024
Gonzaga University News Service
Matt Santangelo (‘00) and Gonzaga University have been married for nearly 27 years, in one way or another. Now he is manager of the Inland Northwest’s Expo+50, the celebration scheduled May 4-July 4 to honor the memories of the 1974 World’s Fair in Spokane.

Gonzaga is a one of a dozen Spokane businesses and organizations that helped kick off this 50th-anniversary celebration planning.

The event will open with ceremonies and entertainment on May 4, 3-9 p.m. in Riverfront Park, site of the World’s Fair. Spotlight events include Riverfront Lilac Bowl stage performances every Saturday, and a closing event July 4 featuring community performances, a Spokane Symphony concert and traditional fireworks.

Six GU projects under the Expo+50 umbrella are:

  • The Gonzaga Climate Institute – in collaboration with the US Attorney’s Office for Eastern Washington, the state Attorney General’s Office, and Gonzaga Law School’s Center for Law, Ethics & Commerce – is hosting a daylong conference April 12 on EXPO ’74: 50 Years of Environmental Justice in the Inland Northwest. The keynote speaker is Environmental Protection Agency deputy assistant administrator Cliff Villa.
  • History Professors Ray Rast and Veta Schlimgen and their students are researching the history of the World’s Fair, from conception to implementation to the lasting positive impact on the region. Leslie Stamoolis’ theater students will stage an Expo ’74 Readers Theater later in the spring. They also plan to turn the script into a written document to distribute to schools and other enterprises in the area.
  • In another multidisciplinary effort, students in Business Administration’s Multidisciplinary Action Projects Class researched and created a report addressing the opportunity to focus attention on Spokane’s younger generations unaware of the significance of Expo ’74. The team gathered information through interviews and research on the Expo’s five pillars – environmental stewardship, legacy of the fair, tribal culture, arts and culture, and recreation and sport.
  • The Business team shared their report with students in Education, who completed additional research, to create a grade school curriculum for Spokane Public School teachers to use before an organized field trip for all students in grades four through seven to the Expo site, outlining history and purpose of Expo ‘74, connecting its past, present and future environmental considerations. The tour dates are April 23, 25, 30 and May 2, two sessions each day. John Traynor and his Community and Place-Based Education class are planning, coordinating and leading this tour/field trip, which Traynor coordinated with SPS. Expo+50 is recruiting community volunteers to help staff each stop on the tour/field trip.
  • Engineering’s Senior Design Expo May 1 will showcase six student-designed projects pertaining to Expo ’74’s environmental and ecological mantra: Drinking Water System Resilience to Wildfire; Bringing Netherland’s Sustainable Practices to Gonzaga’s Campus; Spokane Stormwater Quality Improvement Study; Sustainable Seat Cushion; Aircraft Interior Parts Recycling; and Electric Wing Deicing.
  • The Jundt Art Museum will feature selected works and award winners for the 2nd Inland Northwest Juried Landscape Art Exhibition focused on themes of creativity, community and environmental stewardship as part of the anniversary of Expo ’74, with an opening reception May 31, 4-7 p.m. The exhibit runs through Aug. 24.

Learn more about the city’s plans at

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