Jakubowski discusses fair history and express gratitude all involved expresses gratitude all involved
We are very happy that you all are enjoying the old fair photos on our Facebook page. The response has been phenomenal! Looking at them brings a sense of nostalgia, stirring up fond memories of special times & special people, some of whom are no longer with us.
Thoughts of warm summer nights, strolling along the midway and eating all of your favorites from the different food stands. If you close your eyes you can almost catch a hint of the barn smell. The bands, the demo derby, horse races, stock car races, and all of the things that entertained us those few days every single year, since back in the mid 1800’s.
That is all history. You are a part of that history (as you can see by the inclusion of the ‘not so long ago’ photos). Each and every day, you are creating your imprint on the history of this great county. For those that no longer reside here, your mark has been left here forever.
Imprinted, just as all of those that lived here before us - the women in long flowing dresses that strolled the wooden planked sidewalks alongside their dapper looking husbands, folks that traveled by horse & buggy to visit neighbors to say hello or to help with harvest, cutting across Mr. Johnson’s hay field to one of the one room school houses that polka dotted the countryside throughout this beautiful county.
They were here first. They worked hard to make this county something special for themselves and for future generations in hopes that they, too, would love it and care for it for generations to come.
It was a group of ‘public spirited citizens’ that petitioned to have a county fair. Waushara County had only been established for 6 years and Wautoma, the county seat, for just 3 years. Soon after, the Waushara County Agricultural Society was born, holding its first meeting on March 2, 1857, in the old courthouse. It wasn’t until several years later, the first county fair was held with 243 entries and by 1934 there were 7,000.
In 1861, at the beginning of the Civil War, the Agricultural Society and the fair were discontinued. In 1866, there was an attempt to revive both the Society and the fair but it was much too soon after the war, a war in which Waushara County had nearly 1,000 men in the conflict. Two were killed in battle, Edward Saxe, of Saxeville and C.B. Howe of Mt. Morris. By 1875, the Society was reformed, land was purchased through hard work and determination, and the fair was held once again. Although on a somewhat subdued nature, the fairs continued through both the World War and World War II.
So here we are, we just celebrated the 142nd Waushara County Fair. While doing the research for our county fair reflections postings, I have come to have a much deeper appreciation for how it all came to be. How it was kept up through all the years, and for all of the hard work and dedication of many that make it what it is today.
My gratitude goes to all who keep the fairgrounds looking nice, the beautiful flowers and trees, the upkeep and construction of barns and out buildings, and to the Waushara County Fair Board, as well.
The county’s UW-Extension Office staff, the 4H volunteers and all of the kids do such a fabulous job and deserve recognition. To the Waushara Argus, for capturing the special moments in time, for which, we are eternally grateful. It is because of their passion to create such a great newspaper, along with the generosity of the people of Waushara County, both past & present, who donate or share with us their treasure trove of family heirlooms, that we are able to step back in time and reminisce of days gone by.
Some may think ‘it’s just another fair’, but please remember, because of those imprints of the past, we are able to enjoy the dreams of our county ancestors.
/s/ Dee Dee Jakubowski, Waushara County Historical Society