Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

August 6, 1992, Page 28

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Good Old Days" Articles 



Good Old Days     


By Dee Zimmerman


Wednesday, August 12, marks the opening of the 1992 Clark County Fair.  During that week, the Fairgrounds will be an active place as it has been for many years.


Clark County’s first cooperative was organized to operate a county fair on March 15, 1872.  The Clark County Agricultural Society was formed to establish a county fairgrounds and an annual fair.  Mr. Dore, who led the organization, stated in 1872, that the purpose was “to improve and develop the agriculture program and to present a county fair which was to be a show window of Clark County.”  Shares were sold for $10.00 each, which would draw no interest and were never to be repaid, brought a total of $3,700 the first year.  A 40 acre tract of land on the southeast outskirts of Neillsville, in the Town of Pine Valley, was purchased for $1,200 and $2,500 was invested in the first exhibit building and a bleacher.


L. J. Glass was the first fair secretary and W. T. Hutchinson was the first treasurer.  Each Township of Clark County named a vice president.  Clark county was composed of nine townships when the society was organized, namely, Pine Valley, Levis, Weston, Lynn, Loyal, Mentor, Grant, Beaver and Eaton.  In the year 1873, the townships of York, Hixon, and Sherman were added to the county.  That year, Clark County’s twelve townships were represented on the fair board and the entire county assisted in presenting the first Clark County Fair. 


During August of 1913, a promotional “Auto Parade” went from town to town throughout the County advertising the Clark County Fair.  This photo was snapped on Thorp’s main street.  In the right corner is the band which accompanied, which was part of the Fair Boosters Group.


During the summer of 1872, a well was dug on the fairgrounds site.  Three Selves brothers had the job of digging the well.  At the point of being down to one hundred and eight feet, the sides of the well caved in trapping one of the brothers, Bill, at the bottom of the well.  Some of the lumber used to shore up the sides fell in such a way as to form a cover over Bill.  Air was forced down a pipe to where he was trapped.  People from miles around the area came to help dig another shaft along the side of the collapsed one.  After three nights and two days, they were able to tunnel in to rescue the trapped man.  That well was used until the later ‘60’s.


In 1873, a race track was constructed on the fairgrounds and a grandstand was constructed on the east side of the track.  In order to attend the first Clark County Fair, people came traveling on foot, by wagons drawn by oxen and teams of horses.  That Fair was scheduled for October 2, 3 & 4 but due to rain was postponed to October 14, 15 and 16.  There were 380 entries and gate receipts were $460.00.



In the early Fair years, it was customary to have a band playing and march around the track as part of the opening ceremony.



The biggest events of the fair were the harness races.  The carts were heavy but the drivers did their best to thrill the crowds each day.


In 1899 a share of Common Stock was issued in payment of a debt; also the real estate was mortgaged for $1,500.00 at 6% interest.  The Fairgrounds were leased to a farmer for $6.00 per year, “one half to be paid on July 1 and the remainder the week of the Fair.”


In 1900 the admission price was 35 cents, rather than 25 cents.  The family ticket was $1.50 “admitting a lady and a gent, horse or team and unmarried children under 18 years of age.”  The fair buildings were all painted that year.


A fence was rebuilt across the front of the fairground in 1901, to provide “advertising space to be charged for the cost of the fence.”  The President and treasurer were paid $3.00 per day for their time spent on Fair business and the Secretary was also allowed some pay.


The first Fairgrounds Main Entrance gate:  Notice the dirt road which is now Highway 10 in front of the entrance, also, the beaten path through the gate winding towards the grandstand.  The first grandstand was located on the east side of the Fairgrounds.



About 1910, an airplane was displayed at the Fair by Walter Moldenhauer.  Mr. Moldenhauer built the plane from white oak two by fours, bamboo and airplane cloth.  The wing span was from 25 to 30 feet and the propeller was hand whittled.  The motor had two cylinders and four pistons.  Mr. Moldenhauer pulled the plane to the Fairgrounds with a two cylinder car.  However, he couldn’t get the plane in the air at the fair.  Later, at home, when he did get it off the g round it went a short distance and then crashed into a rock pile.  (Photos and information courtesy of the Clark County Historical Society and Ruth Ebert.)




One of those new “flying machines” was on display in front of the grandstand.  It was during c.1920 when the grandstand was on the east side of the track.






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