The First Iowa State Fair-1854
GRIMES, BENTON, TRIMBLE, LOWE, HUYETT, ALBERTSON, INSKEEP, MORGAN, HODGES
Posted By: cheryl moonen (email)
Date: 10/14/2017 at 19:14:18
Wednesday, October 13, 1875 - Creston Gazette (Creston, Iowa) Page: 4
The First Iowa State Fair
The first State Fair was held at Fairfield, October 25, 26, 1854. The great event at the first fair was the ladies’ equestrian. In these degenerate days of railroad, phaetons, carriages, and general uses that tend to luxury and indolence, this especial feature is ignored. But at that time there were ladies’ saddles, and many used them. So the President offered a prize for the boldest and most graceful equestrianism, and the competitors numbered seven. The President, feeling the delicacy of his position, declined to appoint the awarding committee, and James W. Grimes recommended that one person from each county represented at the meeting should be chosen. The committee were James W. Morgan, Des Moines County, Thomas H. Benton, Johnson County, Henry H. Trimble, Davis County, R. P. Lowe, Lee County, Mrs. P. L. Huyett, Jefferson County, Miss S. Albertson and Miss A. Inskeep, Wapello County.
The riding was surpassingly good. Everyone was in ecstasies. The award was made to Miss Belle Turner, lee County. The watch was presented in a neat and elegant address by Mr. Morgan, editor of the Telegraph, which has thence changed its name to the Burlington Hawk-Eye. But among the competitors was Miss Eliza Jane Hodges, of Iowa City, called by the crowd, "The Iowa City Girl.” She was riding a famous race horse, “Rattler,” and, weary of routine embraced in the graceful idea of horsemanship gave whip and rein to her horse, went around the track a couple of times as only a quarter horse can go, then off the track over the open spaces on the ground making a daring leap of a deep and wide ditch, back to the track and up to the judges’ stand – she smiling and happy, her horse panting like a lizard and white with foam, so great was the excitement and so was the crowd carried away with this, that men mounted on horseback rode about the circle shouting for “The Iowa City Girl,” and raising a pony purse for her benefit. Every fellow’s pocket was emptied of part of its money, and the girl received enough cash to place her in a good home, give her a good training at a private school for two years, and she wasn’t spoiled by all this demonstration. She is living happily and comfortably in neighboring State, and doubtless looks back to her triumph with many a chuckle of satisfaction. But the award of the committee was made secured the hearty commendation of the people, on the sober second thought, and the excitement proved of great value to the “Iowa City Girl.” Another indication of the popular feeling about the equestrianism is the Telegraph printed a most readable description of all the particulars contest, occupying four solid columns of the paper.
The people of Fairfield, as the people of other towns have done since, “open house.” Every house was full and every person was happy. There were no thieves, no blackguards, or pick pockets, that required an army of detectives and police to watch the circumvent. There were no drunken men to make a row, and no mischief breeders to provoke discord. And in all the years since, no crowd ever went away from and Iowa State Fair any more happy and satisfied than the 12,000 who assembled on the 20th day of October, 1854.
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