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JIM: Gone Glimmering. For the Adair Co. Fair, history repeats?
For ye of little faith, who do not see the possibilities for the Adair County Fair to rise Phoenix-like from its ashes in the 21st Century as it did one hundred years ago, there heart-warming County Fair Salvation in reading what happened to the fair one hundred years ago - maybe the darkest day ever for the event. JIM uncovers some remarkable answers to questions most of us have asked, but never gotten satisfactory answers, such as the symbolism of landmarks, of the four stone pillars, and of why one great oak carries even more meaning than its majestic and enduring strength could ever suggest: It was the monument to the fifth man, a man with the highest calling, a newspaper editor, of course. This is a story of great sadness, but one worth reading time and again. It is a message of great hope.
See for this year: 2017 Adair County Fair at 3 venues this year
Click on headline for complete story with photo(s)
With the Adair County Fair looming large on the event horizon, albeit in vastly different venues, the retrospect below from June 1917 about the then-recent demise of the time-honored event seems appropriate. Just as the Fair arose Phoenix-like from "ashes" a century ago from the sale of the fairgrounds, so it has again in 2017.
Transcribed from the Adair County News, June 13, 1917:
The closing out of the fair grounds last week in the sale of lots marks an epoch in the history of this county that brought joy once a year to many of our people. For many years the fair was held beginning on Tuesday next to the 20th of August, continued for four days--the most leisure time in this section. and therefore drew large crowds each day.
While spirited contests were common for the premiums, yet the social features -- the hours of leisure, where friends met friends in pleasant conversation were of far more worth and enjoyment than the amount of money staked by the Association.
The Association was organized and held its first fair in 1884. At that date and for several years later, much interest was found in trotting races and the Association played to sentiment and dropped below the profitable point. The patronage was not sufficient to sustain the premiums attractive to the trotter, and the fair association paid deficits and disbanded.
Some four or more years passed, and Mr. W.H. Hudson, owner of the ground, renewed the fair and it was conducted by him with C.S. Harris, Secretary and advertiser, for several years. At his death [Mr. Hudson passed in July 1903] the ground was sold, and a company of eight men bought it, organized The Columbia Fair Association and held a fair each year with varying financial results, but always played a little in the safe side of the ledger.
In 1915 it held its last show, sold the grounds at public outcry and it was bought by four of the old association. Last year they failed to play even, and sold the ground to the Wakefield Realty Company, of Shelbyville, who put the financial touch to its history in the sale of lots.
No more will be seen the spirited rivalry that for years elicited applause. No more will the blue ribbon be tied on the wrong nag or to the halter of an unworthy Jersey. It's a fare-you-well Malinda, gone to return no more so far as that plot of ground is concerned, but its marks of passing -- designed by those who reaped the harvest -- leaves four pillars to its two main streets, as we understand marks of respect to commemorate the names of four of The Columbia Fair Association and known as the "Big Four," namely, R.F. Paull, H.A. Walker, J.B. Coffey, and W.L. Grady.
The first pillar next to town marks the chief and prime promoter and director of the four, R.F. Paull; the second, H.A. Walker, President of the Association; third, J.B. Coffey, Secretary; and fourth, W.L. Grady, the spirit that moved in many hotly contests, where the Peacocks usually wore the blue.
In speaking to a member of the Realty Company, the question was asked, "Why did you leave that sturdy oak in the center of the first street, and what relation does it bear to the old Fair Association?"
We were informed that it was left to commemorate a fifth member, C.S. Harris, long the Secretary of the Association and signifies opposition not always in accord with the "big four" but always in the middle of the road.. Mr. Robert Young being a non-resident member, was left with no memento. Mr. Lem Smythe, active only the four days of the Fair, was not memorialized, while J.H. Young was left several lots at a price he was willing to pay to identify his interest and long connection with that plot of ground. No more fairs, no more blues -- Columbia is stretching out.
* * * * *
A week earlier, the June 6, 1917 edition of the News reported the Messrs. Wakefield, selling agents, "were highly pleased with the sale and perfectly delighted with the people of Columbia." They had paid $2,500 for the land, spent around $350 in prepping and subdividing the acreage into 57 lots, and took in $6,744.72 from the May 31st auction, for a profit of over $3,000.
"The Peacocks," mentioned near the end of the article, referred to saddlebred horses. The stable of Mr. Luther "W.L." Grady of Gradyville was home of the pedigreed Jordan Peacock (1891-1914), whose offspring, recognized far and wide as among the best-of-breed, nearly always brought "fancy prices" when put on the market.
The streets mentioned in the article likely were those put in by Wakefield Realty in preparing the former fairgrounds for sale. Another article stated all the lots had street frontage and back-alley access.
This story was posted on 2017-06-29 07:46:02
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