An account of the 1870 La Salle County fair

Our fair commenced on Tuesday, Sept. 3d, and was to continue four days, and although the first day opened rather unpromisingly by threatening rain, yet Wednesday morning dispersed the clouds and our fears; the sun smiled upon us, and before night it was evident even to the croakers that the entries were unusually large, especially in blooded stock, horses and cattle. The display of the former was never equaled by any previous fair in this county, including as it did some of the best blood in the county, whether for speed, style or draft, the French and the Coburg Ohio blood being well represented. The brood mares and colts gave evidence that our farmers, while keeping one eye upon cattle, hogs and sheep, have not shut the other to the merits of blood in horses.

No cattle were exhibited except Short-horns and grades, but we are confident that not many counties in the State can take the blue ribbon from La Salle on the Durham question. An enumeration of the various animals would be quite too long for your columns, and only those of superior merit need be mentioned: On four year old bulls, the first premium was given to J. W. Armstrong’s bull, Toland; on three year olds, to A. Lang; on two year olds, to C. H. Green, Clifton; one year old to J. W. Bruner. On cows four year old, A. Lang; three year old, H. Jackson; two year, J. W. Armstrong; one year A. Lang; and on calves six month and under, I. H. Green took the first premium. Mr. Green’s stock, although not exhibiting so much as J. W. Armstrong, was as fine as one could wish.

The show of swine was not large and consisted mainly of Chester Whites, although Mr. Green (C. H.) had some as fine specimens of Poland-China pigs, five months old, as one need look for.

In sheep, the Southdown and Coswolds were present in small force, but that was no disappointment, as the sheep industry does not excite much interest in this county. Agricultural implements, too numerous to mention, were ranged on the ground allotted to that branch, and the attention of all was centered first and last on Dr. Hull’s curculie catcher, exhibited by J. E. Porter, of the Eagle Works, Ottawa, who took the sweepstakes premium on the largest and best show of agricultural machinery; his combined riding or walking cultivator, gopher and hay rake attracting much attention, as well it might in these days of machinery, combining as it does four machines in one.

Nathan Woolsey, of Waltham Township, exhibited something new in fences, being an iron post and board fence, the post in two parts, the part that enters the ground being of cast iron, shaped like a lance head, and two feet long, in the top of which is a bar of wrought iron about 1 1/2 inches by 3/8 inches thick, to which the boards are fastened by bolts. An excellent invention for the prairie, where iron must eventually supercede wood for fence posts.

The poultry department was composed mostly of Brahmas, of which there were some fine specimens. And in grain the quantity, though not great, except corn, was of good quality. Corn took the lead, and the exhibit would be hard to beat. The vegetable department was almost a failure, owing, probably, to the excessively dry weather.

In the hall the cloth from the mills of J. Green & Co., of Dayton, deserve notice as of fine texture and beautiful finish, including doeskins, beavers and flannels. The ladies were on hand with needlework in usual variety. Four paintings in oils were exhibited – a portrait, one of animals and two landscapes, that would do credit to any collection. Judge Caton contributed a specimen of the bark of the California big tree, the bark itself being as thick as many a tree is in diameter.

In the upper story were the fruits, consisting of apples, pears, plums, peaches and grapes – the latter remarkably fine; jellies and preserves, bread and butter, wine cider and vinegar were in full force, and one corner was occupied by Trunker & Rose as a sort of gun shop.

Considering the good beginning, all anticipated a successful fair pecuniarily, and although the attendance was very large the proceeds for the first three days will do little more than meet expenses, while the last day, so far as gate money was concerned, was just about a failure. The races were well attended, but the $165 purse for running horses was not wanted by the horsemen, no entries being made, and the trotting purse of the same amount was taken by H. H. Yates’ mare, Kate Hazard in three straight heats; time: 2:56, 2:56 and 2:59. Owing to the rain there was no exhibit of ladies’ equestrianism; but Bowman’s especial premiums on babies brought out sixteen of the little darlings, the committee of ladies giving the blue to Mrs. Melvina Wilson’s little daughter, Lovina, eleven months old, and to the son of Mrs. M. L. Baker. The fair was well managed throughout, for which the officers deserve much credit.1

  1. Prairie Farmer, Oct. 1, 1870, p. 1