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State Fair, 1870

The state fair held in Brownville in 1870 generated great local excitement. Brownville then had four hotels besides a number of restaurants and boarding houses to take care of fair goers, and the town's business and professional men had carried out extensive preparations. The Nemaha County fairgrounds south of town served as a site; a main building 100 feet by 100 feet, containing five rooms, was built. It drew nearly twice as many entries of fruit, vegetables, livestock, grain, and other exhibits as had previous fairs.

The Brownville Daily Democrat of September 21, 1870, editorialized, "Our State Fair is the great event of the season and everybody is going wild over it. Yesterday was the first day and was devoted to making entries and making arrangements for the real exhibition of the next three days." Lists of exhibitors' names, including those of Brownville notables, were included along with descriptions of their entries. "Col. R. W. Furnas displayed a large show case filled with fruit, embracing thirteen varieties of grapes and four kinds of pears. The colonel also has a lot of other articles, including some comparative specimens of Cashmere wool, among which is some of his own growing."

The September 21 issue also announced the "Stair Fair Ball," scheduled for that evening. "The managers are A. J. McFall, H. H. Brant, W. T. Rogers, and A. May, with Davidson Plasters as floor manager. With these gentlemen to conduct it, it cannot be otherwise than a success. Berkley's orchestra will furnish the music and to say this is to exhaust the subject. They render waltz, schottische, gallop, polka, and quadrille in a manner that makes old age oblivious to its weakness." Tickets were $1.75 each.

Apparently the difficulty of listing and describing exhibits caused the Democrat's representative at the fair to discontinue his earlier effort to do so. On September 23 the paper remarked: "Our reporter was at the ground yesterday, but had to plead guilty as to a severe attack of laziness and a pressure of outside business."

Also on September 23, the Democrat remarked, "The rain night before last made traveling very unpleasant, but did not detract from the larger crowd in attendance at the fair. The fair has been and is a complete success in all essential respects and had the weather been favorable we would have had five thousand people here instead of two."

(August 1999)



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