The county fair, continued

Friday, August 14, 2015

Susan Doak

Southwest Nebraska Genealogy Society

The Monday Evening Edition of the McCook Tribune on July 5, 1920, quietly announced that the county fair dates were set for October 5-8 and the location was to be in McCook. Elmer Kay, J. F. Cordeal and C. W. Kelley were appointed as a special executive committee to have "charge completely of the business affairs of the fair association."

Thus ended the Red Willow County Agricultural Society and in its place, the Fair Association was born. Officers of the association were S.H. Stilgebourer, of Marion, president, C. W. Kelley of McCook, vice president, Elmer Kay of McCook, secretary, and Clark Hedges of Indianola, treasurer. Directors included M.E. Graham of Danbury, J.F. Cordeal of McCook, J. F. Carmichael of Indianola, L. E. Moore of Bartley and Homer Bastian of Danbury.

The Tribune went on to say, "In order to assist in the publicity end of this important enterprise, The Tribune desires now to be enlisted for the end of the war, and hopes the executive committee will feel free to give us for publication and all news it may consider of moment and usefulness in its connection."

On Oct. 7, 1920, coverage of the "First Annual Showing" of the reorganized association notes that first day of the fair started off in "good style under favorable auspices and has attracted good crowds and favorable comment each day."

Some of the promised prizes from local merchants included: A. Barnett, to grain and garden department, $100, Bon Ton, offers for best Red Rhode Island Chicken, one large box of candy, Temple Theater, offers for best apple pie, two theater tickets, White House Grocery, offers for one half bushel potatoes, one sack of flour, V. Barbazette, offers for largest pumpkin, one oil heater, H.C. Clapp offers for best peck of sugar beets, any $10 hat in millinery, H.P Sutton Co. offers for best collection of apples, any $10 article in store and L. W. McConnell Co. offers for best remodeled street dress, one bottle perfume!

Harness races were a big draw for the fair and nearly 60 horses were on the grounds to compete in the trotting, pacing and running events. A football game between the McCook and Alma high schools also took place at the fairgrounds. The McCook band played each afternoon on a platform in front of the grandstand, between the box wings.

The Midway (noted to be blocks long) included a dance pavilion, merry-go-rounds, Ferris wheels, doll racks and "scores of devices to get your coin."

Between races, acrobats, a trained mule and clowns gave free shows, plus the Honorable W.E. Anderson spoke at "an appropriate interval in the races" for "Republican Day" at the fair.

Exhibitors were many and varied. W. C. Randel showed seven varieties of apples grown without spraying, which included The Welty, Rasberry, Maiden Blush, Jonathan, Gano, Missouri Pippin and White Winter Permian. Ralph Clark had five pens of Chester Whites which won first prize in Maywood. J.F. Carmichael showed his Shorthorns, which included a yearling bull that he had purchased for $2,000. Elsie Butherus, the grand champion of the Boys and Girls Club showing in Bartley, brought her prize Poland China hog. Gerald Wilcox and the county farm made up a goodly portion of the agricultural exhibit.

As a final comment, The Tribune noted, "Enough has been shown on this exhibition to indicate the splendid possibilities of a fair at McCook, with a broadening out into the larger field of the district fair and the addition of a suitable sales pavilion."

The rest, as they say, is history!

Southwest Nebraska Genealogy Society's October Expo planning is progressing to its final stages with featured speakers on the Orphan Trains and DNA, plus small classes on photo identification, grave stone images, the Last Indian Raid museum and much, much more. Watch for our ad in the Gazette to sign up for this exposition or join our Facebook community for more information.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: