Agricultural Exhibitions

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Agricultural Exhibitions


the display of the achievements of agricultural production and science.

In socialist countries agricultural exhibitions serve the interests of the whole state and all the people. Their purpose is to accelerate the development of agriculture in the technical, technological, and organizational aspects on the basis of introducing the achievements of agricultural science and progressive practice into production. In the USSR agricultural exhibitions extensively demonstrate the achievements of large-scale, highly mechanized socialist agricultural production and are a school of progressive methods in the organization and application of refined technology in particular sectors of the kolkhozes and sovkhozes. In capitalist states exhibitions pursue primarily commercial purposes and are at the same time fairs (wholesale and retail) and auctions.

Prerevolutionary Russia. Both general and specialized agricultural exhibitions were organized in Russia. The largest general exhibitions took place in 1850 and 1860 in St. Petersburg, in 1864 and 1895 in Moscow, in 1887 in Kharkov, and (the largest one) in Kiev in 1913. About 2,000 exhibitors participated in the Kiev exhibition and more than 10,000 objects were presented for exhibit, including about 2,000 animals. Special (sectorial) agricultural exhibitions in our country originated from the livestock exhibition in Kholmogory, Arkhangelsk Province (1857), where primarily cattle were exhibited. Later came exhibits on horse raising (Moscow, 1866), sheep raising (Kharkov and Moscow, 1870), dairy farming (Moscow, 1878; St. Petersburg, 1879), poultry farming (St. Petersburg, 1880), beekeeping (St. Petersburg, 1899), and agricultural machinery and implements (St. Petersburg, 1894). General agricultural exhibitions on a province and interprovince scale were also held (in Riga, Odessa, Tbilisi, Kiev, Penza, Saratov, and other cities). In a number of places, for example, in the provinces of Poltava and Tula, local exhibition-fairs became common.

In prerevolutionary Russia, agricultural exhibitions were organized in the interests of the large landowners, owners of factories that consumed agricultural raw materials, stock companies, and large-scale renters of gentry lands. The businessmen concluded commercial transactions at the exhibitions, and the objects on exhibit, particularly the farm animals, were sold by auction.

Soviet Union. The educational and propagandistic effect of the agricultural exhibition on the broad masses of working peasants manifested itself under Soviet power. In July 1918 in Simbirsk (present-day Ul’ianovsk), a floating agricultural exhibit was opened which was visited by more than 23,000 persons. During Dec. 11-20, 1918, materials on the natural wealth of Russia, the distribution of the country’s land resources before and after the October Revolution, the condition of agriculture, the work of the communes, and so on were exhibited in Moscow for delegates of the First All-Russian Congress of Land Departments, Committees of the Poor, and Communes.

Various types of agricultural exhibitions for various purposes became widespread in the USSR. Territorially, they are subdivided into intrafarm, raion, oblast (krai), republic, and ail-Union exhibitions. By subject they are broken down into general and sectorial exhibitions. In addition, they are subdivided by particular crops, animal species, and problems (mechanization, land improvement, electrification, chemicalization of agriculture), and also by certain production procedures in different sectors of agriculture. Special exhibitions devoted to the know-how of particular masters of agricultural production, specialized teams, brigades, and so on are also set up. The most important organizational principle for agricultural exhibitions in the USSR is selecting participants on the basis of results from competition among agricultural workers, kolkhozes, sovkhozes, scientific institutions, educational institutions, and other enterprises and organizations related to agriculture. In accordance with the conditions of the competition, the winners at the exhibition are given diplomas; gold, silver, and bronze medals; and monetary and commodity prizes.

The First All-Russian Agricultural and Domestic-Industries Exhibition was opened on Aug. 19, 1923, in Moscow at the initiative of V. I. Lenin. It was held on the site of the present Gorky Park of Culture and Recreation. “I attach very great significance to the exhibition,” wrote V. I. Lenin,“and am confident that all organizations will give it full assistance. I sincerely wish it the greatest success” (Poln. Sobr. Soch., 5th ed., vol. 45, p. 298). On his last visit to Moscow, on Oct. 19, 1923, V. I. Lenin inspected the exhibition. This exhibition was visited by about 1.4 million persons; it promoted the adoption of progressive farming methods, new agricultural crops, and animal breeds in peasant farming, and it was a means for graphic popularization of Lenin’s cooperative plan. The exhibition also served as an impetus and a methodological example for the organization of a large number of agricultural exhibitions in local areas. In just the RSFSR, 6,319 republic, oblast, and raion exhibitions were held during the years 1924-27. The number of visitors exceeded 6 million.

The Permanent All-Union Agricultural Exhibition (VSKhV) functioned from 1939 to 1941 and from 1954 to 1958. During the years 1939-41 it was a review of the achievements of large-scale, highly mechanized socialist agricultural production on the eve of the Great Patriotic War. It was set up on an area of more than 140 hectares in Moscow (Ostankino). More than 250 buildings (such as pavilions and hothouses) were built there, large numbers of fruit and decorative trees were planted, flower gardens were put in, and exhibition plantings were laid down. Showings at the VSKhV were structured on both the sectorial and territorial principles: by Union and autonomous republics and by particular natural zones. In the three years 1939-41, about 800,000 persons participated in the VSKhV. During the first year more than 3.5 million persons visited the exhibition.

During the Great Patriotic War, the operation of the exhibition was stopped, to be begun again on Aug. 1, 1954. Before the exhibition opened there was a competition for the right to participate in it. The competition involved agricultural workers, kolkhozes, machine-tractor stations, sovkhozes, and scientific institutions, as well as raions, oblasts, krais, and republics. The display principle remained the same as before, a combination of territorial and sectorial. The area of the exhibition was expanded to 207 hectares, and the number of buildings reached 383. Between 1954 and 1958 more than 1.5 million persons participated in the VSKhV, and the number of visitors exceeded 36 million, which included more than 1 million members of organized tours. The main committee of the exhibition awarded participants gold, silver, and bronze medals, as well as diplomas and certificates; it also gave out valuable prizes.

In accordance with a decree of the Council of Ministers of the USSR dated May 28, 1958, the VSKhV became a part of the Exhibition of the Achievements of the National Economy of the USSR (VDNKh). The republic pavilions were eliminated, and the sectorial ones were redesigned. In the agricultural section at the VDNKh intersectorial and sectorial subject-oriented exhibits and reviews were organized, as well as special displays on the most important production and technical problems of developing sectors of agricultural production. On the basis of these exhibits, reviews, and displays, scientific-technical seminars and conferences, schools of progressive work methods, and meetings between production innovators and scientists are held. Subject-oriented traveling exhibitions dealing with the most timely questions of agricultural development are carried on in the country’s primary economic regions. Exhibitions of the best pedigreed animals, demonstrations of new machinery and equipment, and showings of segments of progressive production technology enjoy great popularity. In the best farms around Moscow, demonstrations of progressive methods are organized without exhibitions.

At the VDNKh, primary significance is attached to popularizing progressive methods of intensifying agriculture on the basis of specialization, chemicalization, full mechanization, and land improvement. Pamphlets are published which popularize the achievements of science and progressive methods in all agricultural sectors.

During the years 1964-69, the achievements of agriculture were exhibited in 31 pavilions at the VDNKh. There were 164 topical exhibitions and reviews, 104 traveling exhibitions, and 1,345 seminars, conferences, courses, schools, and meetings in which 148,000 agricultural specialists, scientists, and production leaders participated. Each year more than 200,000 production leaders and about 9,000 farms participate in the agricultural section at the exhibition. Of them, more than 2,000 farms and organizations are awarded diplomas of the VDNKh, and 30,000-35,000 persons are given gold, silver, and bronze medals with money prizes.

Most Union republics have permanent exhibitions which, like the VDNKh, popularize the achievements of science and progressive methods in all sectors of the national economy, including agriculture.

Oblast (krai) agricultural exhibitions are held periodically. They show the state of agriculture in the oblast according to the most important organizational and economic problems and for particular sectors. Along with a thorough presentation of the achievements of agricultural production and agricultural science in the oblasts (krais), subject-oriented exhibitions on the leading topic for the given area or for the given year are organized. A component part of the work of oblast (krai) agricultural exhibitions is holding seminars and meetings between scientists and practical workers; publishing mass literature, pamphlets, and posters on the work of the foremost people in agriculture and the achievements of local experimental institutions; and printing articles on the exhibition and its participants in the local newspapers.

Raion agricultural exhibitions have become a traditional form of summarizing the results of the agricultural year and a way of celebrating All-Union Agricultural Workers Day (the second Sunday in October of each year). These exhibitions familiarize visitors with the activity of the kolkhozes, sovkhozes, and progressive workers who obtained the best results during the current year and won championships. Subject-oriented raion exhibitions are devoted to particular topics such as Progressive Methods of Raising Sugar Beets and The Technology of Flax Cultivation, as well as to production operations or methods, such as Mechanized Milking and Chemical Methods of Fighting Weeds. In a number of raions, permanent areas have been assigned for agriculture exhibitions, and structures have been built. The exhibitions are accompanied by reviews of amateur artistic and cultural achievements in the raion and organized trips to the best farms and enterprises.

Intrafarm agricultural exhibitions are organized at large kolkhozes and sovkhozes. They are timed to coincide with different events at the farm, such as its anniversary, the awarding of a state prize to the kolkhoz, interkolkhoz seminars, and excursions from other farms. At kolkhoz agricultural exhibitions natural (“as is”) displays predominate; exhibitions of photographs are set up, and the farm is inspected as is.

International exhibitions. The USSR participates in agricultural exhibitions organized abroad and is a member of the Convention on International Exhibitions. The USSR also gives foreign countries broad opportunities for setting up agricultural exhibitions on its territory. International exhibitions on agriculture with participation by the USSR have been held in the German Democratic Republic (1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1967, and 1969), Hungary (1962, 1964, and 1970), Rumania (1960 and 1965), Yugoslavia (1965 and 1967), India (1960-61), and the United Arab Republic (1961). In addition, the achievements of USSR agriculture have been displayed in Soviet pavilions at commercial-industrial exhibitions in Czechoslovakia (1960), Great Britain (1961), France (1961), Mongolia (1961), Brazil (1962), India (1962), Burma (1966), Italy (1966), New Zealand (1966), and Hungary (1967), as well as at the world fairs in Brussels (1958), Montreal (1967), and Osaka (1970). International and world exhibitions permit foreign countries to become familiar with the achievements of Soviet agriculture and make it possible for USSR representatives to study foreign methods of managing agricultural production and to establish closer contacts with foreign scientists and specialists. Many Soviet exhibits (such as tractors, farm machines, instruments, equipment, and varieties of agricultural crops) have been given awards at these exhibitions. In the period between 1958 and 1970, 2,374 awards were received, including 23 highest state and honorary prizes, 945 medals (of which 471 were gold), and 1,581 diplomas. Agricultural exhibits (such as agricultural equipment, instruments, and grain) are also shown at various foreign international fairs which pursue commercial purposes. The achievements of Soviet agriculture have also been shown at international exhibitions held in the USSR, for example, at the exhibitions Chemistry in Industry, Construction, and Agriculture (1965), Modern Agricultural Machines and Equipment (1966), and Chemistry-70 (1970).


Vsesoiuznaia sel’skokhoziaistvennaia vystavka 1939 goda. Moscow, 1939.
Zhukov, A. F. Arkhitektura Vsesoiuznoi sel’skokhoziaistvennoi vystavki 1939 goda. Moscow, 1939.
Vsesoiuznaia sel’skokhoziaistvennaia vystavka 1941 goda. Moscow [1941].
Fedorova, M. I. Vsesoiuznaia sel’skokhoziaistvennaia i kustarnopromyshlennaia vystavka. Moscow, 1953.
Vsesoiuznaia sel’skokhoziaistvennaia vystavka 1954 goda. Moscow, 1955.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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