Last updated: February 21. 2014 5:47PM - 1095 Views
Staff Report



One of the featured entertainers for the 1941 fair was Slivers Johnson, a clown with a screwball Tin Lizzie.
One of the featured entertainers for the 1941 fair was Slivers Johnson, a clown with a screwball Tin Lizzie.
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Down through the years, The Madison Press, in its various forms, has followed the fortunes of the Madison County Fair. Evidence of this is found in the numerous bound volumes. They hold an absolute wealth of local information. The staff selected bound volumes from over the years to present the following:


In 1923, admission to the fair was 50 cents for adults, 15 cents for children, with admission to the grandstand 25 cents “day or night.”


In the Aug. 20, 1925 edition of the paper, the story said fairs perform a necessary function of “bringing the farmer to the cityfolk.”


The Aug. 27, 1925 edition of the paper featured a huge banner touting the opening of the fair (Yes, the fair was formerly held in August.) The page one story had a decidedly commercial slant to it as many retailers were listed as exhibitors. Those exhibits would include motor cars, pianos and washing machines.


The Aug. 31 edition published race results on page one. Purses for trotters and pacers each were $400.


In the August 1939 edition the new Merchants building was touted for its contribution to the fairgrounds complex, but it was not without controversy. The article talks about the skepticism of many “as to the outcome of the venture.”


“But the immediate success of the display feature has brought an advance demand for space which indicates the need of more room for such exhibits.”


“Fair visitors will be highly pleased with the building displays which offer a wide variety of products of London mercantile firms and business houses.”


To entice visitors to the building, The Madison Press distributed “Old Timer” badges to those age-appropriate attendees who visited the Press’ booth in the Merchant’s Building.


For the Golden Jubilee year (50th anniversary) of the fair, it was graced by a visit from Madison county’s native son and “Ohio’s first citizen,’ Hon. John W. Bricker, governor of Ohio, who hailed from Mt. Sterling. He was accompanied by the Hon. John T. Brown, state director of agriculture, his wife and children.


The 1939 fair was described in the “most successful in many years.” Success rode on ideal weather, “a good program every afternoon and three nights and excellent exhibits.”


“The attendance was very good throughout the entire fair and the crowds for the night shows are said to have established a new record. More than 6,000 persons witnessed the evening programs.”


Fair officials “are confident that the four-day exhibition will show a nice profit.”


One of the shows featured that year was a talent show. The fair story marks one local girl, Sue Toops, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Toops, of Range Township, “was the only local winner in the amateur contest that was put on…”


“The dainty little miss did a song number.”


The amateur talent show drew 2,000 to the grandstand.


In the first year of the 1940s, the fair board decided to move the opening of the fair from Tuesday to Sunday. Their reasoning was sound. “According to the fairboard, closing the event on Thursday instead of Friday will give exhibitors a day to move to the State Fair, which opens on Saturday,” the article said.


The ag society sent a positive message about the 1941 edition saying it “will outclass all previous fairs and state that everything from the high-powered ‘barker” in front of the side show to the genuine ‘blue ribbon’ bulls will be on the ‘menu.’ It is estimated not less than 25,000 people will learn, at first hand, of progress their communities as demonstrated by the exhibitors at the fair.”


Opening festivities on Sunday included a variety show with a multitude of acts. The afternoon bill included the following: Slivers Johnson and his temperamental tin Lizzie, Paige and Jewett, the sensation on wheels (bygone brands of cars, by the way), Well Bros, acrobats and DeArmo the juggler.


The evening card featured 20 acts in the amateur show. “It is predicted that this will prove one of the best drawing cards of the entire fair,” the article said.


Professional acts included Ezra Buzzington and his Rustic Revelers, Flash Williams and his thrill drivers and the WLW Boone County jamboree.


“Members of the Science Hill Grange will operate the food tent near the grandstand and a group of Sedalia women will be in charge of the dining hall where meals will be served three times daily.”


Many businesses including banks, building and loans, public offices and the post office closed at noon during the fair.


Again in 1943, the ag society came through with a full-page ad but it had a decidedly patriotic bent to it. The ad lead with “The man with the plow and the man with the gun (and then in smaller type) woking hand in hand, together with the war industries, can and WILL WIN THIS WAR.


Uncle Sam says, “A Victory Vacation in 1943.”


The five-day event—Sunday through Thursday—featured on the opening night the WLW Boone County Jambore “America’s No. 1 rural radio show. In those days WLW touted itself as “the nation’s station.”


Grandstand entertainment that year featured “Ramblin’ Red” Foley and Eva, a singing duet, The Watkin’s circus with animal acts, trapeze artists, trained dogs, “entertainment for the entire family,” WLW on parade with “a sparkling swingtime variety show with an all-star cast.”


Top purses in trot and pace stakes races stood at $700 and racing took place four nights with one night a pony race.


Grandstand entertainment that year featured “Ramblin’ Red” Foley and Eva, a singing duet, The Watkin’s circus with animal acts, trapeze artists, trained dogs, “entertainment for the entire family,” WLW on parade with “a sparkling swingtime variety show with an all-star cast.”


Top purses in trot and pace stakes races stood at $700 and racing took place four nights with one night a pony race.


At the close of the 1950s, spiritual values remained high as the 1960 edition of the fair would open with a worship service at 9 a.m. on Sunday, with Methodist minister Leonard W. Mann conducting the service. Those attending the service were admitted to the fair free of charge.


Madison County Fair continued in 1960 to host the special Angus beef show with more than 200 entries thereto.


Other attractions included other livestock shows, including 4-H and junior fair, were expected to draw entries expected “to more than double the anticipated adult showings.”


The Firelands Cadets, a precision marching drill team from Norwalk Ohio, was scheduled to perform.


“Weather conditions are expected to be ideal, with warm days and cool evenings. Extended forecasts also indicated that no heavy rains were expected…”


Entertainment at the fair went airborne. The 1960 edition of the fair featured a veteran of the Airborne unit of the U.S. Army, Andrew Stuckey, parachute jumped onto the fairgrounds from 4,000 ft. and 8,000 feet.


Heavy rains did drench a day of the 1983 fair, but overall didn’t dampen attendance which was estimated at 60,000. Vern Back, secretary, said high temperatures throughout the fair week “did not have much of an effect on attendance at the fair.” People just came later in the day, when it was cooler. The heavy ran, which fell Sunday, forced cancellation of the tractor pull.


 
 
 
 
 
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