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Hickman Gets the Fair

August and September are traditional months for county fairs in Nebraska, frequently-but not always-held in a county seat town. The Hickman Enterprise in the spring of 1892 described the circumstances under which the Lancaster County Fair that year was held in Hickman rather than in Lincoln. "For years it [the fair] had been run by a few people living in and around Lincoln," said E. F. Fassett of the Enterprise on February 6, "and our people took into their heads that they wanted a finger in the pie."

Fassett next described Hickman's strategy: "Last Saturday, January 30, was the time prescribed by law for the holding of the annual meeting of the Lancaster County Agricultural Society [sponsor of the county fair], at which time the election of officers and the selection of a board of directors would take place. Early in the morning it was given out on the streets that a large number from Hickman would attend the meeting and become members, thereby learning something about how the people's money was being spent, and to that end a special train was secured and nearly a hundred boarded it and left at 12:30 for Lincoln. On arriving there, all proceeded at once to the court house and were just in time to be present when the president [J. D. Woods] rapped for order. . . .

"An auditing committee consisting of Wm. Foster, A. L. Sullivan and E. E. Smith, was appointed, and while this committee was performing its duty the president enrolled all those who wished to come forward and pay their dollar to become a member, and right at this point the fun began. The people from Hickman soon got possession of the secretary and kept him busy writing down their names. . . .

"Pending the report of the auditing committee an adjournment took place to the big court room, where each member signed the constitution thus becoming qualified voters. The committee not yet appearing, the situation was thoroughly discussed, and when the Lincoln contingent learned that the Hickman people had no desire to capture the state fair, court house or the big capitol buildings, but were only after a controlling interest in the county fair, they gracefully succumbed to the inevitable."

A subsequent election of officers included W. B. Morrison, Hickman, president, and Enterprise editor Fassett, secretary. Despite further legal skirmishing the Lancaster County Fair was held September 20-23, 1892, in Hickman rather than in Lincoln.

Three men pose in front of Lancaster County's agricultural exhibit at the state fair in the 1880s.
NSHS RG3356-2-33

(August 2010)



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