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10 > Image 10 of Fairs and fair makers of Kentucky. Volume II

Part of Kentucky Works Progress Administration Publications

i - 194 - FAIRS AND FAIR MAKERS out the leading agricultural sections of the State, and at least ninety-nine lo- cal fairs were held during the period of 1853-42. After the latter year the so- cieties and their fairs went into eclipse-- all except that of Bourbon County, which, with one year's omission, continued annually down to the close of the cen- tury. During this period a State agricultural society was formed, and the Ken- tucky Farmer, an agricultural paper that for four years exerted great influence tgward the betterment of farming in the State, was published, but no State fairs were attempted. The "hard times" of the l840's ended this cycle of fairs, and of the valuable experiments in acre-yield crop production that accompanied them. _ Fairs of the mid-Nineteenth Century In 1857 a fair sponsored by the United States Agricultural Society was held in Louisville on the grounds of the Jefferson County Agricultural Society. This fair, reported fully in Harper's Weekly of September 26 of that year, did much to advertise Kentucky to the Nation at large. Meanwhile, fairs sponsored by the g State of Kentucky, under the management of the State Agricultural Society, were held during twelve of the fifteen years of the 1856-70 period. These fairs, L traveling from one section of the State to another, gave local people in all {_ parts of the Commonwealth opportunity to meet the great herds and herdsmen of the i- State; brought the latest and best in farm equipment and machinery to the atten- Q tion of farmers; and served as a traveling college of agriculture before the days Q- of such an institution. Q During the War between the States the fairs were suspended, all of them for S a year or more, many of them for the entire period of the war. But with the t season of 1866 the fairs of former days began to revive, and in addition new E societies were formed. These fairs of the late l860's served as a neutral ground S where men of the Blue and Gray could meet in friendship; the issues of the war S forgotten in their common interest in agricultural matters. practically every Q county in the Commonwealth, with the exception of the heavily timbered mountain E3 region, held an annual fair throughout the post-war era that ended with the S depression of the l890's. The fairs of the third State Agricultural Society S closed with the Henderson Fair in l870. After this, great regional fairs, like Q those held in Lexington during the l870's and after, competed with each other for S the place left vacant. Bowling Green, Owensboro, Paris, Louisville, and Other g centers staged outstanding fairs during the period. ij The healing influence of the local and regional fairs of the late l860's and E the l870's mark them as outstanding agencies for good, The new social contacts Q they brought about helped life to resume much of its old-tire flavor. The younger E generation met at them, made love, married, and looked toward the future. {,3 { The stock show still retained, perhaps increased, its numerical importance, . but divided honors with the speed events and riding exhibitions. Trotting was in fashion. The exploits of Dexter, Goldsmithls Maid, Maud S, and other kings and g queens of the oval were as widely known and much more keenly appraised than those of today's fleetest standard-breds. Fact fair, down to the smallest, had its Q local track favorites, and interest in their performances, usually held during E the afternoon of the closing day of the fair, brought out practically the entire countryside. The tournaments of the l870's revived the pageantry and riding skill @ developed in the l850's and seen today at the Kentucky State Fair Horse Show- ~ Q During the same period the making of farm machinery and equipment was rap- 2 idly moving from the local blacksmith shop into the larger cities and into huge i plants that turned out mowers, reapers, hay rakes, ard like machinery on a scale