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Washtenaw Fair

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i The following paper was read before j he Pioneer Sooiety at its Jone j ng in Ypsilanti: It is always a questiou, vbat will bH of interest ou au occasion like this? We hope it will not be fatiguiug to yon, for me to give a part of the bis;ory of the past, aud a few thiugs that ire hoped for in the future of tb.9 Washtenaw Fair. The Amerioan fair is as muoh au intitutiou of the United States as our ooDstitotion is. Early in the 18th oennry, Franoe, Germany aud Holland ield what were oalled "Agricultural Shows" - they were then as now priucipally sale dayR. Iu the state of New York was orgauized tbe first Amerioan fair, as early as 1802, aud it was at ;hat time ooDtrolled by the business men of the large oities, the oommon 'armer had bot littles to do with them, muoh less the mothers and daughters. In 1810, tbe first oounty fair was organized in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Twenty-six farmers were the originators and it was known as the "Berkshire Agricultura] Sooiety. " This sooiety was oalled iuto being by a neoessity aud opened a new era in the history of agrioultural fairs. A great desire with the people was to fres America from dependenoe upon Britisb manufaotured artioles and stimulate agrioulture. And, indeed, these were tbe prime motives of the founders of tbis sooiety. From that time to the present, agricultnral fairs have been looked upon as great factors in the upbuilding of more approved methods of agrionltnre and manufactures. The fair of 1811 had in its parade the looal band followed by sixty yoke of oxen driven by two of the oldest farmers in the oonnty. The exhibits wore from the farm aud town. Womeu were conspicuous by their absenoe. In 1818 tbe plowing match was first seen Bt the county fair. Siooe that period, many ohanges have taken place to keep step with tbe maroh of time. Yon will 6ee, it was but a few years aftei the pioneers of Michigan first began to settle in this neighborhood that the first county fair was orgauized. We find evidence of talk about fairs in the early forties in tbis and other counties of Southern Miohigan, bnt nothing wasaooomplished until 1848 when the people of Washtenaw decided to hold an agricultural and meohanioal show. The first in Miohigan and for all tbat I have been able to find in regard to it, the first west of New York. When you have heard the names of the originators of that first Michigan Fair you will understand why it was a decided anccess. Tbe Fair was held in that part of our oity now designated as the Fonrth Ward in Ann Arbor, Oot. 10, 11 aDd 12, 1848. Williatn Fiuley was president, 3. H. Agnew, secretary, and James Kiugsley, treasurer. Tbe vioe-presidenta were : Horaoe Welob, Pittsfield; Joün VanCleve, Ypsilanti; Lnther Boyden, Webster; William Bnrnett, Scio. The executive cotnmitteewas: James K. Vannatta, Salem; Rnf us Matbews, Nortbfleld ; - Kinuey Webster ; Henry Warner, Dexter ; Selah Collins, Lyndon ; Thomas Godfrey, Sylván; Asa Williams, Lima; F. G. Finley, Scio; J. D. Baldwin, Ann Arbcr; John Brewer, Superior; Mark Norris, Ypsilanti ; JEtobert Barry, Pittsfield ; Newton Sheldon, Lodi; Edward Litohfield, Freedom ; Oliver High, Sharon; Daniel Hickson, Bridgewater; T. S. Spafford.Manohester; Solomon Haight, Saline; Daniel Carpenter, York; Coon Bedman, Angosta. No donbt many of you knew some of those stardy old pioneers and oan readily peroeive their earnest desire and determinaron to make a suocsss of thia great nndertaking, wbioh must have been all that they desired, for we find in the year following that many county fairs were started and tbe state, beaded by Governor Raneora and the legislatnre, making appropriations and planning for a state society. We have interviewed several who atteuded the flrst Miohigan fair, 50 years ago, and all agree that it was a great thing for those days It had ruany good features. The first state fair was beid in Detroit but the seoond, by invitation of tbe old Washtenaw society, was held in Ann Arbor in conneotion with the connty fair. After this the state fair was held in Detroit for several years; but the Washtenaw sooiety adopted the plan of moving frora place to place, renting the grounds and buildings, fenoes, eto., each year. No sheds were provided for live stock. In the first ten years it had been held two or three times in Ypsilanti, once in Dexter and the rest of the time in Ann Arbor, when the society " deoided to purohase grounds and build permanent buildings. We are indebted to many frieudR for iuformatiou ia regard to tbe dates of the first fair. One wornau told me that she would aiways remember that fitst fair, for on the way home from it Robert asked her to marry him. Another remembered it by the birth of her daughter, oue beoause she was attending the Mies Clark sohool that year. One man remembered it well for he led a white bnll to the fair that year. No two agree as to where the entranee gate was looated, but they teil niarvelous stories of the prodnots that were on exhibition. Nothing in these days is to be oompared with thern. In this, the semi-oentennial Fair, we hope to reproduce some of the old bygones. The board of managers have appointed a oomrnittee who are to have oharge of ereotiug a Pioneer Home, a typical log öabin, snch as was used 50 years ago, and we wish this sooiety as a sooiety and as individuáis to help make it a suooess. We would like yoo to loan your old and treasared relios, yoar family keepsakes, for thisoooasion. We will be glad to oonfer with a oornmittee of pioneers. We wish to make this one of the greatest exhibition of pioneer days ever hald in Miohigan, and we cauuofc du it without your hearty uo-operation. Bring the family portraits of the old settlers. I know all will be glad tn see the faces of those again whotu they knew theD, tweDty or fifty yeare ago. What a treat it would be to see the face of John D. Pieroe, the futher of tbe graded school system, Dr. Bahbitt, J. Webster Ohilds, Judge Edwin Lawreucé, Dr. E. Wells, Lrnther Boyden, Judge Dexter, Andrew Robinson, in fact bnndreds of the old people that we ouce knew and who were instrumental in ïnaking Washtenaw the greatest oonnty in Michigan. I repeat that to do this and briug about a snocess, you most lend a helping hand, not only who are present bere today, bnt yonr children and voor grandohilnr u. Teil your neighbors and tbey will t .1 others. Altnost every family has sou a heirloom that we wonld be only too glad to put in the collection to be exhibited this fall at the Fair.


Ann Arbor Argus
Old News