Reflections: More memories of the county fair


By Evelyn Long - Contributing Columnist

The Morrow County Fair is in the midst of its 168th event, a run of eight days. I want to share some more facts and figures about its history.

Athletic events were held on the grounds for a century-that included baseball, football and basketball. Track meets were also run.

In the summer of 1881, a four-week religious camp meeting for African-Americans was held on the grounds. An automobile tourist camp was also on the grounds in the early 1920s and the local Kiwanis Club provided play ground equipment for the camp.

The 1888 fair, a four-day event in October, promised “amusements of all kind” and a good band would be in daily attendance. The dining hall was run by the local Women’s Christian Temperance Union and harness races were run each day. Dr. Paul Fisher, veterinarian from The Ohio State University, slaughtered four diseased cows during a how-to-demonstration at the October, 1911 fair.

Many of us remember the huge hill that stood to the left and inside what is Gate A. That hill, with a house on top, was removed in 1949. The house was sold and moved to Boundary Road north of Edison and housed a barber shop.

As a fair goer from youth, one of the things my sisters and I looked for was the food. Such treats as cotton candy — sno-cones, fried waffles, etc.

Later, when we took our children to the fair, the first thing they wanted to do was head for the dining hall for pancakes. Fair food is a treat. The rides have evolved from the ones I could tackle with merry-go-round, ferris wheel, tilt-a-whirl, etc. Today, I prefer to just be a spectator.

I love the fair and growing up on a farm makes me appreciative of the efforts made in preparing for the fair; lots of work and dedication. Youngsters with their cattle, sheep, swine, goats, dogs, poultry, rabbits, horses and 4-H and FFA projects have worked hard to compete for winnings.

Looking back at some past fairs:

1928: A former Mt Gilead man, Frank Russell, a resident of Kansas since 1888, drove to his hometown to attend the 1928 fair. On the back of his sedan he attached a large sign advertising the local fair in four states. The sign read: Kansas City to Morrow County Fair, Mount Gilead, Ohio September 18-21. Another attraction was a parachute jump by a one-legged man.

1938: Sept. 28-Oct. 1: On display at the Crystal Ice Delivery tent was a large Lake Erie pickerel encased in a 300 pound cake of ice. Movies with sound were filmed of this fair by George Ebeck, owner of the Capitol Theatre in Mount Gilead. The 20-minute film included scenes of the cattle judging, a spinning wheel demonstration, parade of antique vehicles some racing events, etc. shown at the Capital Theatre.

1948: Harness races all four days. Gilead Grange capped first place in grange judging. Total persons admitted during the eight day run were 11,871 and total gate receipts were $5,822.50.

1968: The 11th annual Herman and Madeleine Holland awards were made to the outstanding young man and woman of the year, Gary Ebert and Judi Jagger. The Hollands owned the Union Store.

1988: Temple Knickel of Cardington and Matt Wiseman of Mount Gilead were given Citizenship Awards by the Morrow County Democrats.

For the 38th consecutive year, the Peace United Church of Christ in Iberia served meals from the dining hall on the northeast corner of the fairgrounds and for the 33rd consecutive year, Lowell Mitton was the fair’s chief of security.

By Evelyn Long

Contributing Columnist

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Reach us at [email protected]