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JIM: 110 Years ago: Columbia Fair had ended on August 23, 1901

Pronounced a success, and, without saying it, A Good Time Was Had by All at the 1901 Columbia Fair. In the rough and tumble frontier Adair County, virtually as rowdy as Corydon, Indiana, was in early riverboat days, decorum prevailed despite the unruly behavior of a view mischief makers. In a scene worthy of nominations for Outdoor Dramas as a Magnet for Canadian Tour Busses, four beautiful little girls stepped to the tune of Goo Goo Eyes the immortal popular song of the day, and captivated the 1,500 massed for the event.

The 1901 Adair County Fair: a piece of cake(walk)

The 1901 Columbia Fair ended on Friday, August 23rd, and the next edition of the News devoted the lion's share of the ink to that worthy event. As always, folks from all parts of the county flocked to the Fair, and several mentions made of the out of town visitors. One short piece noted there were far too many visitors to mention by name, while another summed it up nicely: "They were here by the hundreds."


The Fair was, by all accounts, quite the success despite somewhat small crowds the first two days of the event. As usual, almost perfect order prevailed that long ago year (with the exception of a bit of unruly behavior the first day, perpetrators thereof unnamed). The ring events were hotly contested, but none more so than the young ladies' riding ring, held on the third day and witnessed by 2,500 people. Said the News, "[T]he two young ladies who did the riding won the admiration of all. It was the closest contest ever witnessed in this section." (It isn't clear from the list of winners and premiums awarded if this refers to Miss Emma Young, best lady rider under 16, or to Tossie Dohoney, best lady rider, no age bracket mentioned).

Mr. N.P. Hancock, a lad of 86, won the premium in the old gentleman's riding contest, and John C. White narrowly missed serious injury when in a plug horse race his mount fell and Mr. White was knocked unconscious.

Of special interest was the music provided. Those in attendance at the Fair were so taken by the entertainments of the Mount Vernon Band that "all grumbles and frowns...were driven away by words of praise...no other band has so completely satisfied the people who have attended fairs in this section." At no time was this more evident than on Friday, the final day, when the band provided the music for an event extraordinaire:

The cake walk, the crowning feature of the entire program--like the best wine--was retained for the closing hours of the Fair and when those four beautiful little girls, Misses Bessie Wolford, of Nashville, Lina Rosenfield, Mabel Atkins, and Edna Lewis, of Columbia, stepped to the tune of Goo Goo Eyes for fifteen minutes. It captivated the entire assembly of 1,500 people who witnessed it. They caught the old, the young, and words of praise came from every throat, but the richest capture was made when Mr. J.T. Ferrin, a big-hearted gentleman from Pennsylvania, presented a five dollar bill to each of the young ladies. (The Misses Lewis and Atkins were 11, Miss Wolford, 13, and Miss Rosenfield,14. Mr. Ferrin was in Adair County in the interest of "the great oil company of Guffey, Galley & Co.")

Another article said of the winsome quartet, "They did not expect to be called upon, and were persuaded to enter the ring only a few minutes before the music started, but their acting and walking was perfection."

While none of these four young ladies ever attained the world-wide fame as a performer that another (grand)daughter of old Adair would a few years later, their stage presence in the impromptu performance "enlisted praises from every body." They were so good, in fact, the News reported their services as cake walkers were in demand by other fair associations, most notably, by the management of the Russell Springs Fair, said Fair to be held the following week. The September 11, 1901 News, in giving a lengthy report of that event, noted that the cake walk--premium compliments of the Adair County News --was won by Misses Mabel Atkins and Martha Hancock of Columbia and that the event "pleased every body--the young, the old, the cultured and the uncultured."

Reverently compiled by "Jim," in the interest of Culture and Enlightenment in Adair County, KY


This story was posted on 2011-08-28 11:17:36
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