Reflections: Looking at county fairs past

By Evelyn Long - Contributing Columnist

The Morrow County Fair has long been one of my favorite events of the year so I was surprised while reading the Sept. 18, 1930 edition of the Morrow County Sentinel, an editorial headlined “Perhaps Our Last Fair” was published on the front page.

The lengthy piece chastised the public for not supporting the annual event which the editor described as “no single agency now at work throughout the country is more help in upbuilding and improving our rural life than the agricultural fairs. The fair is perhaps the greatest proposition in the country for boosting the breeding of better livestock and better farm projects as well as art, baking and canning.

All fairs should be founded on the great principles of agriculture, livestock, education and industry. It is for everybody and everybody should boost it.”

The editor continued: “The fair is second only to our public schools as an educational agency. It is not run for one individual but for the entire community, it is not run for profit but for the benefit of all.”

“The reason fairs do not succeed financially is that the average person comes but one day and the result is a one-day fair. Every man, woman and child should boost their home fair and attend it as often as possible. Morrow County people should be fully aware of the situation which is confronting the local fair. The public this year, above all others, must support the enterprise or see it fail.”

The editor’s words mattered. Headlined in the October 23, 1930 paper was “Eightieth Annual County Fair Has Unusual Support, the three-day exposition pronounced a success by the board.” The story went on to say that only cold weather on Friday of the three day event kept the attendance figure set by crowds attending from establishing a record for all time.

The opening day crowd was 1,200, the largest in four years and on Thursday it was 4,000 paid admission and a crowd of 3,500 on Friday. There were 278 automobiles on Wednesday, 278 automobiles on Thursday and 850 automobiles on Friday.

There was a comparison to the 1929 attendance which was considerably lower. The story concluded “another fair will be held next year, officials of the fair board have indicated.” The Sentinel editorial made an impression — and people responded positively.

Just five years earlier, in 1925, the fair celebrated its Diamond Jubilee. Next week I will have more on that and some stats about earlier fairs.

Looking back

August, 1939: Herbert Brackney and Norman Fleming of Cardington returned home after spending a month at Citizens’ Military Training Camp at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana.

When LeArul King of Cardington wed Carl Varner of Marion, it was her sister, Rev. M. Elizabeth King who performed the ceremony and when the couple obtained their marriage license at the Morrow County Courthouse, it was the probate court clerk, M. Elizabeth King, who typed up the application.

August, 1949: The 12,691 people who attended the 99th annual Morrow County Fair all agreed that it “was the best ever.”

August, 1989: Dean A. Graham of Cardington, one time mechanic for Long’s Garage, was selected as Morrow County Outstanding Senior Citizen for 1989.

By Evelyn Long

Contributing Columnist

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