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198 > Image 198 of Fairs and fair makers of Kentucky. Volume I

Part of Kentucky Works Progress Administration Publications

OF KENTUCKY _ . m___M______ lZ_; for beauty and gaits, is not only sought by buyers from all siates of the Union, but also (by buyers frog) foreign nations." Other fairs of lS93 mark that year as climaxing the fairs. of that decade, both in ring offerings and in public in- ` terest. Bicycle races were a feature attraction at the Lexington Fair. ln l@94 the Lexington or Bluegrass Fair not only increased its bicycle en- tries but offered, in connection with students of the State University, an ath- + letic "field day." A phonograph man was on hand with "Edison's little talking machine." The "flying Dutchman" was well patronized. A pony race, a sack race, a mule race, a pie-eating contest, a potato race, a tug of ter, a congressional race voting match, and an exhibition drill were among the featured events that attracted the crowd and vied with the stock rings. Saddle horse events, and the "dancing that was continued until midnight" also were on the program. The depression that followed the panic of 1993 was already two years old when, in l895, the Lexington Fair again opened its gates. The stock rings were excellent but the main effort, symptomatic not alone of the Lexington Fair nor yet of Kentucky but of the entire national economic situation, w .... s to provide at- tractions that would swell the gate receipts to a profit-taking volume. The trots were missing. The saddle horse show was good. Hicycle racing replaced the speed events. lmle races furnished amusement. "Field Day" was greater and more popular than ever. r lea??~ns.E<.S.... "lk>sf@2>es;lll In such manner, with local variations, the fairs of the middle nineties bat- tled for their lives against the crushing weight of the ante-panic depression. One by one the societies closed their gates or had then closed by the sheriff. By 1897 a mere "corporal's guard" out of all the societies that had come into be- .* ing subsequent to 1850 were still alive. The Shelby organization survived; the equally famed and still older association of Bourbon County lapsed for a decade. The fairs of Fayette, Harrison, Scott, and other counties passed into the hands of fraternal societies or of private promoters. In general, those that survived , the ordeal through which the State was passing were the simply organized, old- fashioned livestock, grain,and household exhibits staged with little thought for pecuniary success, but intended rather to afford education and enjoyment to the . county and its immediate neighbors. Many of the great breeders retired. Those who continued in business, shortened sail. In such an atmosphere of doubt and hesitancy the century closed. . TE_THOROUGHBRED AGAIN _ The part played in Kentucky history by the Thoroughbred has not been forgot- ten. It figures largely in the opening chapter of this story. lt is later stressed where the story of the development of the Trotter is told. but with the fifties, when the standard-bred or Trotter emerged, and still more with the de- velopment subsequent to the War between the States of the American (Kentucky) saddle horse, the Thoroughbred, his breeding, and his achievements became less rand less a matter of general interest, and more and more a matter of concern to "* that company of men associated with racing as a business. One after another the early racecourses were abandoned, the trotting track succeeded to their place in popular regard, and of all the nineteenthcentury courses but three survive-- those at Lexington, at Covington, and at Louisville. The Lexington course is a revival of that known a century ago. The one at Covington owes its existence to its inclusion within the Cincinnati urban area. Churchill Downs in Louisville, home of the Kentucky Derby, is alone among the racecourses of the State in at- taining and holding a position among America's great courses.