Histories: Trempealeau Co. Historical Accounts:
"History of Trempealeau County Wisconsin, 1917":
Chapter 23: More Historical Papers
The Galesville Fair
-As transcribed from pages 890 - 891
The agricultural fair or "cattle show" was a tradition brought from the Eastern States, from whence most of the settlers came. In 1859 the time seemed ripe for such a venture in Trempealeau County. The rich virgin soil had brought forth abundantly. The pioneers were boasting of vegetables of great size, of experiments made in raising the standard of crops, of excellent results with stock, and of the success in solving the many problems incidental to the creation of a rich agricultural region from the hills and valleys that had only a few years before been an untraversed wilderness. A fair would not only give the widely-scattered settlers a chance to compare experiences and results, but would also demonstrate the resources of the county and attract immigration.
Accordingly a call was issued and the Trempealeau County Agricultural Society duly organized at the Court House on October 1, 1859.
"A. Call. -- We, the undersigned desirous of organizing an Agricultural Society in the County of Trempealeau, do appoint a meeting for that purpose, to be held in the Court Hosue at Galesville, on the 1st of October, 1859, at 2 o'clock p.m. It is to be hoped and expected that every town in the county will be fully represented. The cause is one that should engage the attention of everyone. Come, old and young, that we may have two essential qualities - experience and fire. - George H. Smith, A. Cary, Isaac Clark, George Gale, Alex. A. Arnold, Ryland Parker, Samuel F. Harris, William T. Clark, Romanzo Bunn and George Y. Freeman, of Gale, and H. Lake and John B. Duning, of Preston."
The officers chosen were: President, George H. Smith; vice-presidents, Isaac Noyes, Alex. A. Arnold and John B. Duning; secretary, George Y. Freeman; treasurer, Isaac Clark; general committee, John C. French, of Gale; Cyrus E. Turner, of Trempealeau; Henry Lake, of Preston; Jacob T. Holmes, of Caledonia; David Bishop, of Arcadia, and Willard H. Thomas, of Sumner. W. A. Johnson, a few days later, was appointed general superintendent.
Preparations were at once made for the first fair. Seventy-five men contributed $1.00 each, and the people of Galesville turned out with axes and grubhoes and cleared the brush fromt he lower table about where the Public Square is now located and surrounded it with a race track, a track rough and uneven, but nevertheless one which answered its purpose. The fair was duly held October 21 and 22. The entries numbered 168 and the competition was keen. All the cash awards were returned by the prize winners. On the second day an address was delivered by Prof. Samuel Fallows. At the 1860 fair the exhibits were increased in number and quality. The third fair was held at Trempealeau in 1861, the only fair of the society that has been held outside of Galesville. Preparations were being made for the Civil War, and a feature of the gathering was a military parade by the Galesville Grays and the Trempealeau Guards.
In the fall of 1862 fair grounds were purchased from Isaac Clark, and the fair of that year held at the new location.
The annual fairs were held on these grounds until 1892, whent he present grounds were purchased and put in use that fall for the Thirty-third Annual Fair. Improvements which were at once inaugurated have continued until the grounds and equipment are numbered among the best in the State.
Some 20 years later interest in the fairs seemed to wane. From the first the maintenance of the fair had been a financial burden to the people of Galesville, and vicinity, and had frequently necessitated contributions of considerable size. The unpaid $1,000 due for the property was a constant menace to the existence of the organization.
New life was infused in 1907 when the citizens organized the Galesville Park, Fair & Improvement Company and by soliciting subscriptions paid the outstanding indebtedness on the property and took over the land which it leases to the Agricultural Society free. Since then the fairs have increased in importance and success, until the year 1916, when rumor of an infantile paralysis scourge reduced both the attractions and the attendance.
The present officers are: President, Carl McKeeth; vice-president, Emil Francar; secretary, Ben W. Davis; treasurer, J. A. Kellerman. The executive committee consists of the officers and of all the living ex-residents, of whom there are now two, Capt. D. D. Chappell and N. H. Carhart.
The Trempealeau Valley Poultry Association, incorporated Feb. 21, 1913, was organized as the Trempealeau County Poultry & Breeders' Associaotn in October, 1912, by M. F. Risinger, John A. Markham, Walter E. Sprecher, L. C. Larson, H. J. Hacker, C. A. Sherwood, C. C. Kremer and Bert Thompson. In 1914 Mr. Markham succeeded Mr. Risinger as president. Shows have been held as follows: 1912, Whitehall; 1913, Independence; 1914, Blair; 1915, Alma Center; 1916, Arcadia. The 1917 show is scheduled to be held at Independence, but probably will not be held on account of war conditions.
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