Early Agricultural Fairs


by Steve Andrishak

Elk Point held its first Agricultural Fair on Wednesday, September 25, 1912. It was arranged by the Elk Point Central Agricultural Society. The officials were: J.C. Lambright, President; J.G. Arthur, First Vice-President; and F.E. Clydesdale, 2nd Vice-President. The directors were: Ray Howard, Joe Mabley, R. Caskey, Court Smith, Charles Magnusson, W.F. Wolfe, G.H. Lindsay, Tom Aarbo, B. Gilbert and J.A. Lambright. H.J. Ramsbottom was secretary, C. Magnusson was the treasurer and William McCormick and O.J. Fish were the auditors. Judging by the many rules and regulations of.. this fair. listed in the fair booklet of 1912, it shows a lot of hard work and planning had gone into staging this fair. There were many fair entries listed such as cattle, horses, swine, sheep, poultry, dairyproducts, vegetables, home cooking, as well as many other entries too numerous to mention. The prize money ranged from $.50 to $2.00 for the smaller entries to $10.00 for the major stock exhibits.

Information taken from another fair booklet shows the 1918 Fair was the 7th annual fair and was held on Friday and Saturday, September 6th and 7th. It had expanded to a two day fair which features many sporting events. In 1918 the President ofthis fair was Wm. Curry, F.E. Van Arnam was the First Vice- President and O.J. Fish was SecondVice-President. The number of directors had increased to 15. Some of the better known names were: J.C.Lambright, Charles Hood, Dal. Beebe, J.H. Babcock, Mrs. Frances Caskey, A. Witworth, E.L. Smith and Tom Aarbo.

These early fairs were sponsored by the many businessmen of Elk Point, some of which were C.A. Johnson, F.E. Van Arnam, Jim Babcock, Charles Hood and the Johnson Bros. (Selmer and Martin). The paid up members of the Elk Point Agricultural Society were in charge of staging this fair.

During the Pioneer days the town of Vermilion was the hub of north eastern Alberta. The merchants of Vermilion drew a lot of trade from the Elk Point district and whenever. Elk Point held a fair it was strongly supported by the many businessmen of Vermilion, either by sponsoring ads in the fair booklets or by making donations of cash or merchandise. Some of the Vermilion places of business that took out ads were: Superior Lumber, C.W. Robinson, Joe. McCone, Fred C. Long, Stephen's Bros. and the Royal Bank. Others who donated cash or merehandise were Craig Bros., C.H. Pilkie, Brimacombe Bros., M. Wener, Brunswick Hotel, J.W.G. Morrison, Leroy H. West, C.F. Stone Ltd., Nellis and Law, and J. Wiebe and son. The early agricultural fairs needed such strong support, Elk Point was a small hamlet and in no way could it stage a fair of such magnitude by itself.

The Elk Point Agricultural fairs were held annually from 1912 to 1918 and perhaps longer. I have information only to the 1918 fair, however it is quite likely they continued into the 1920's and even into the 1930's.

The 1918 fair advertised many sporting evens such as ball games, potato race on horseback, three legged race, boy's pie race, and a tug of war - Elk Point against the world. An interesting special event in the 1912 booklet reads: Mr. Craig of Vermilion will give a handsome prize to the lady who harnesses her own horse to a buggy, drives one half a mile and shows the best horsemanship, a gentleman to accompany each lady. Another special event of this fair reads: Mr. Slater will give $5.00 in merchandise for the best 10 gallon crock of butter, the butter to become the property of the donor. Another special event reads: Wiebe and Sons, millers of flour, Vermilion, will give two sacks of Acme flour for the best two loaves of bread made from Acme Flour; and still another event reads Ed. J. Kibblewhite, druggist, will give a lady's silver mounted manicure set to the lady who sends in the best essay on the "Bright Side of Homestead Life".

The admission price to these early fairs were $.25 for adults with no charge for children or paid up members of the Elk Point Agricultural Society.

Elk Point held its first Agricultural Fair 79 years ago; it was well planned, well organized and was in every way a professional event. Everyone in our small hamlet and the people living in the surrounding district looked forward to these annual fairs. They were always well attended. The fair committees did an outstanding job in staging these early fairs.