The Sacramento Host Breakfast is a statewide breakfast initiated by Sacramento banker Fred W. Kiesel in 1926. Mr. Kiesel was instrumental in the formation of regional councils throughout California in the early 1920s and served as a director of the California Development Association. The purpose of the councils was to bring problems of the state to the forefront and combat the growing movement of the time to split California into two or more state.
Sectional differences in California were magnified as immigration produced a more diverse culture and a more balanced economy caused changes for the primarily agricultural state. There was little cooperation or agreement on how to keep California one united state. The regional councils were formed to combat the sectionalism. Mr. Kiesel was named vice president of the Sacramento Valley Council.
Mr. Kiesel believed the best way to promote state unity was to gather together the decision-making leaders from all areas of the state’s economy to discuss their differences. He personally hosted the first breakfast in September 1926 and continued as host for the next six years.
Attendance at the first few breakfasts was not recorded; the press was not invited and the proceedings were not divulged. It is known, however, that Mr. Kiesel introduced each guest individually, announcing each hometown and professional title. His personal touch helped make the guests feel welcome and enhanced the objective of bringing the guests together to create understanding and goodwill. The procedure of introducing each guest was modified in the 1950s when the guest list first exceeded 500.
In 1933, the Sacramento Host Committee was formed to carry out the objectives of the Breakfast. The press was invited for the first time that year. Reports indicate that members of the California Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors were honored guests. Later, the Board of Directors of the California State Fair was added to the list of honored guests. Both groups have been honored at every breakfast since.
The start of World War II and the population boom in California convinced the Host Committee that there would always be a need for problem-solving and improved understanding among decision-making leaders in the state. The Committee decided to make the Breakfast a permanent annual event.
In 1935, Governor Frank Merriam served as the guest speaker, starting another tradition; the governor has been asked to speak at every breakfast since. (One year, Governor Jerry Brown could not attend and President Gerald Ford addressed the crowd as the featured speaker. It was on the President’s way from the Senator Hotel to the State Capitol that Squeaky Fromme attempted to shoot him.) Another long-observed tradition is the use of fresh produce as table decorations. The produce is symbolic of the great importance of California’s agriculture.
The Sacramento Host Breakfast has become a California tradition. There is no function comparable to it in any other state. The Host Committee hopes the objective of providing a common table for California’s leaders to meet and share views will continue to be accomplished in a non-political, non-commercial way through the annual Sacramento Host Breakfast.