MIAMI — The excitement was the same, but the location of the first Ottawa County fair was quite different.
In 2016, after debate whether Afton or Miami would most the event, it finally was decided that it would be held four blocks from the center of town, on East Fourth Street.
A story in the Miami Record Herald — a predecessor to the current News-Record — said “a visit to the busy, bustling new city just east of the Frisco on East Fourth street is well worth while and indicates to a surprising degree just what is going on in the way of preparation for Ottawa County’s Big Free Fair which begins Monday, September 18 and lasts three days.”
This year’s fair, marking its 100th anniversary, will be held Aug. 16-24 at the Miami Fairgrounds. It moved there in 1924.
According to the Record Herald, more than 2,000 attended the first day of the 1916 fair, more than 5,000 on the second then “monster crowds estimated by many to be in the vicinity of ten thousand on third day Wednesday.”
There were 160 horses and mules, 75 dairy cattle and sheep and swine entered.
Farm produce, fruits, fancy and needlework were displayed in a general exhibit hall.
“Miami had tried to make her promise good when it agreed to provide buildings and grounds for the fair. About five hundred feet of stalls had been built along the north end of the grounds and every inch of the space was soon filled with registered stock blooded cattle horses and mules. The array of fine stock was an eye opener to all who visited the grounds. Surprise and wonder were expressed by every one at the extent and quality of the stock. It was not known that development of blooded cattle had reached such an advanced stage.”
A large tent was raised and seated as a “rest room.” It proved to be “a favorite resort for the weary, showing a lively appreciation of the comfort afforded.”
Large metal tanks of water were located at various places around the ground.
“Miami’s business men discovered only too late, that the fair afforded them the greatest opportunity of the year to make displays of their commodities. They will not let space go to waste next year,” a Record Herald recap said.
One of the highlights of the 2019 fair will be a performance featuring multi-platinum selling Thompson Square at 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18 at the fairgrounds arena.
Keifer Thompson is a 1991 graduate of Miami High School.
Admission is $20 and tickets are available in advance at the Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Exhibition building hours will be Tuesday through Friday from 4 to 9 p.m. with extended hours on Thursday — Senior Citizens and Kids Day — from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
The carnival will run from 6 to 10 p.m. Aug. 20-24.
Wristbands are $28 nightly or $3 each, 10 rides for $28 and 30 for $75.
There will be a tractor pull at 7 p.m. Aug. 16-17, and demolition derby at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24.
Tractor pull tickets are $10 with children under 8 admitted free. A pit pass is available for $15.
Admission for the demolition derby is $15 with children under 8 admitted free with pit passes $20.
Gates will open nightly at 5 p.m. for the grandstand events.
There will be an antique tractor show at 5 p.m. Aug. 23-24.
The livestock show schedule includes dogs, 11 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 17; horses, 6 p.m., Monday, Aug. 19; swine, 4 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 20; sheep and goats, 5 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 21; beef, 6 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 22; dairy goats, 9 a.m., and bucket animal and buddy, 6 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 24
Poultry and rabbit judging will be at 8:30 a.m., Tuesday Aug. 20, then on Saturday, Aug. 24, there will be youth livestock judging, 11 a.m.; youth fitting contest, 1 p.m.; under 8 poultry and rabbit awards, 5:30 p.m., and Super Showmanship contest, 7 p.m.
The premium sale dinner will be at 5 p.m., Friday, Aug. 22 followed by the presentation of awards at 6 p.m., and the premium sale at 6:30 p.m.