In the fall of 1891 a group of interested citizens in Louisa County held a meeting to talk about the development of a county fair. A temporary secretary was chosen and a meeting was held for those interested in starting the fair, was held December 24, 1891.
The name, Columbus Junction Agricultural Society was chosen by the group at the first meeting. The first fair dates were chosen for September 10 to September 14, 1892. The group leased eighty acres of land east of town in Columbus Junction, IA.
They had a five year lease plan, at the rate of $6.00 an acre. The ground was leveled and a one mile race track was constructed. The track was once believed to be the fastest and finest tracks in the state of Iowa. Between the hog, cattle, horse shows and the races over 9,000 people attended the first Louisa County Fair. In 1913 the race track was shortened to a half mile.
After many years of running the fair going into debt which was mounting over $30,000, the fairboard hired a race promoter in 1985 and the fairboard ran the foodstand weekly. At the 1989 fair we held a mortgage burning ceremony, no one believed we would ever get out of debt.
On June 18, 1990 flood water came in at the fair grounds. Five to six feet of water flooded the entire fair grounds. After the water was pumped out a generous supply of debris and mud was left. Damage included display cases in Floral Hall, equipment, secretary's office and foodstand had to be replaced. Board members and families cleaned up the buildings and grounds and the car races were held on July 3.
In 1993 we had another flood - had to do a lot of cleaning up and all board members and their family members worked hard again! But that year the grounds were ready and it started to rain just before the fair was to open. 4-H judging was moved to Wapello, IA and other fair activities were cancelled.
Between floods, hot weather, cultural events, new buildings and additions to the older buildings have been some of the major changes for the fairgrounds to experience. In Floral Hall people from different cultures have been encouraged to enter in the open classes. A cultural fair was held with people showcasing their food, crafts and music to give our community a taste of their life. A walk of bricks has been established at the fairgrounds in 3 different locations. Contests being held at the fair include baby, diaper, ponytail, bucket gardens, flip flop and campground lighting to give people of all ages a chance to participate. An addition was added to the show ring, ceiling fans and seating were expanded to help make it larger and more comfortable for the spectators do to handle the increase of livestock exhibits in 4-H. This year the board printed their own fairbook for a new adventure.
The fair board is a very active group of people at the local level, but also members have severed offices at District and State levels. The Louisa County Fairboard has had four members inducted into the Association of Iowa Fairs Hall of Fame, Harry Duncan, F. D. Smylie, Jim Rutt and Elmer Thomas and one Fairman of the Year, Jim Rutt. Louisa County Fair Board has been awarded the Blue Ribbon Centennial Fair Award in 1992. Six board members have served on the Iowa State Fairboard, Bill Weaver, R.S. Johnston, Harry Duncan, Thomas Huston, Jim Rutt and currently Robert Schlutz.
As the fair has been around for 114 years the dedication of all people from past and present families, exhibitors of all open classes and especially the fairboard and their families have made the fair what it is today and in the future.
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