Fairgrounds once approved as barracks for prisoners

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Ginny Hall | January 3, 2014

We continue our history of the Walworth County Fair from the 1920s. In 1921 the executive committee voted that all exhibited cattle had to be tested and clean from disease for at least 18 months. 

In 1924 women were allowed to vote at the meetings; in fact, anyone who had a fair membership could vote. That year they decided that the first day of the fair would be Labor Day. 

In 1928 the officers were asked to look into the possibility of increasing the exhibits from the boys and girls clubs. The next year they decided that all exhibits had to remain in place until 9 p.m. of the last day of the fair.

In 1930 the agricultural agent was asked to work with the president and secretary to revise the premium lists.

The 1939 book had information about the third annual National Crochet Contest with a grand national prize of $200.

In 1943 the board minutes indicate that the M.E. Church of Lake Geneva would be in charge of the dining room and receive 10 percent of the receipts. A few years later, the board approved that the Lake Geneva Methodist Church could make changes in the dining hall at their expense and that they would have use of that building for future years as long as they did a satisfactory job.

In deference to the number of people serving the country during the war, all men and women who came to the fair in uniform would be admitted free.

In 1944 the board approved the use of the administration building for quartering German war prisoners. A committee was named to obtain mutual understanding of the rules, regulations and restrictions regarding the prisoners. The society voted to invest $8,000 in U.S. bonds. 

In 1946 the board voted to build a new swine barn and adapt the old one for junior exhibits. The Boy Scouts were given permission to use the Log Cabin for their monthly meetings and during the fair.

In 1947 the board purchased about 6.5 acres of land north of the horse barns between “Burlington Road and the old Eagle right of way” for $1,000. Fans were purchased for the home economics building. Seavers Laboratories was hired to rid the grounds of rats, especially around the horse barns.

In 1948 the VFW had the use of the Log Cabin and conducted the flag raising ceremonies at the fair.

These past four columns have given you a brief history of the early days of the Walworth County Fair. If you want more history, look around your neighborhood for a longtime exhibitor or attendee. I'm sure they can fill you in with more details.

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