Children received special attention, free tickets to fair

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Ginny Hall | December 27, 2013

We continue our history of the Walworth County Fair in 1897. For fairgoers who never venture down toward the barns, this is where most of the open class animals are judged. It also is the location of the Sheep Lead-in and Banker's Night.

The annual meeting of the society on Jan. 13, 1897, had a record crowd. The group decided that no superintendent could exhibit in his own department and that a committee of three women would select the judge for the floral hall, fine arts and pantry store.

Photo gallery of Mystery Places.

The next year money was tight and the society voted that the president and executive committee be paid only their actual expenses. The marshal, treasurer and secretary also had their salaries cut.

The executive committee voted to extend Elkhorn's water protection system into the fairgrounds with four hydrants if it could be done for less than $1,000.

The 1899 society meeting included a motion that the railroad company be contacted regarding a side track to the fairgrounds. 

The next year the executive committee gave free use of the grounds to the Elkhorn fire department for its tournament in June if all grounds and buildings were left in good condition. The president and secretary were asked to meet with the city council regarding free use of water for the fair.

In 1902, the price for admission to the amphitheater was set at 25 cents.

In 1903, the financial statement showed a balance in the treasury of $92.22 but with an indebtedness of $1,849.53. The next year's statement showed a balance of $155.29 and an indebtedness of $933.46. By 1905, the fair's indebtedness was down to $213.23.

By this time, daily admission was 35 cents. The price for memberships was $1.50 and 75 cents for ladies.  

In 1906, the superintendent of grounds was instructed to install electric lights in the horse and stock barns as a precaution against fires.

Schoolchildren Day was set to be held on the Wednesday of the fair with free admission to all county schoolchildren. 

Turnstiles at all gates to the fair and at the entrances to the amphitheater were added. In 1909 the cost of a life membership increased to $15. 

In 1910, the Elkhorn City Council passed a resolution giving the fair free water and  electricity for the next five years if the society wired the grounds and buildings. Schoolchildren could receive free tickets to the fair through their school district clerk.

In 1911, they decided that all schoolchildren be given a free ticket good for any day of the fair. Land south of the fairgrounds owned by Mike Slattery was bought for $1,000. 

In 1912, the executive committee voted that the officers meet with road officials and property owners affected by the electric railroad being built and the possible purchase of any land lying between the fairgrounds and the electric railroad bed.

When the society met in 1918 the minutes indicated, “there were more motions before the House than could be copied in a week by a short hand reporter.”

Later that year the executive committee authorized the purchase of more land and the building of the stock pavilion.

They appropriated $100 for the Boys and Girls Club of the county. This was for the 4-H clubs, which began in 1914 but were not called by that name originally.
Ginny Hall, a historian from Delavan, is author of the “Walking around ...” and “Meandering ... ” books, which highlight the history of Walworth County communities.

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