(Editorial Note: Part 121 of a series of further development in the early days that impacted the settlement of Franklin County. Sources: Franklin County Citizen, summer issues of 1939, 40, 41, 44)
The year was 1939 and there was some excitement about the prospects of Franklin County having a fall fair of its own. This would be a first. In the past county residents who were interested went to the Cache Valley Fair in Logan and that was always advertised in the Franklin County Citizen news.
In June there was a petition circulated in Franklin County, seeking the appointment of a county fair board to work in conjunction with a Chamber of Commerce fair committee to sponsor a livestock and agricultural fair. It had been filed with the county clerk with more than 2,000 names of county voters, asking for a fair in connection with the night rodeo scheduled for August 18 and 19.
The county commissioners indicated they would create a seven-man board to cooperate with the current county agent and the Chamber of Commerce. Any objection of voters or taxpayers had to be presented by June 30. The amount of money appropriated for this endeavor would be $1,150, $1,000 of which must be used for premiums. A $1,300 WPA project for a new exhibit house was being considered.
Taking place at the same time was the Second Annual Horseshow. The organizers decided to combine the three: the rodeo, the horseshow and the fledgling fair. All who were participating in the horseshow were encouraged to start early with their training and finishing due to there being a large number of classes. Any questions people might have would be fielded by members of Preston’s Boots and Saddle Club. Horse owners from Utah and other southeastern Idaho communities were invited to show.
“Classes were: Shetland Ponies, Ladies Five-Gaited, Novice Three-Gaited, Jumpers, Yearlings and Two-year-olds, Open Three-Gaited, Hack, Stock Horses, Fine Harness, Adult and Child, Pleasure Horses, Novice Five-Gaited, Three-Gaited Pairs, Open Polo, Gentlemen’s Three-Gaited, Open Five-Gaited.” Entry blanks were available with rules at the Preston Chamber of Commerce.
The three groups all agreed to cooperate in putting on a fair. Franklin County agreed to obtain a lease from the city for the fair grounds, adjacent to the rodeo arena. New stables were being constructed at the grounds for the use of exhibitors and already many persons had signed their willingness to come. The decision had been made to open with the horseshow on the evening of Aug. 17, with other events following the next days. Officials announced that 4-H club contests would begin the morning of the 18th for the boys and dairy cattle judging will commence at 11 am.
“Livestock exhibits promise to be the best ever held in Franklin County. The swine department will constitute a very creditable part of the exhibits, and horses will be judged in the late afternoon. All persons interested in good livestock should plan to attend the fair, see the animals judged, and watch the demonstrations and activities of the 4-H clubs and Future Farmers,” stated officials.
It appears that at this time there were no fair buildings, only arrangements for livestock. 4-H club girls’ exhibits would be on display in connection with a flower show in the Foss Building on North State Street. 157 4-H club girls would participate in judging contests, demonstrations, and a style dress revue. This was an opportunity of seeing not only the work of the young people, but also see the demonstrations and style dress revue which was to be held in the Preston Opera House.
There were 22 4-H clubs in the county representing 10 different communities. A total of 184 boys and girls participated. They were considered to be the home-builders and farm operators of the future and were receiving splendid training through their 4-H club activities. A large number of adults acted as local leaders during that past summer,
The flower show was planned to encourage “more flower raising and culture of better flowers.” $25 in cash prizes would add incentive to display their blooms. There were specifications for glads, roses, dals, asters, and other varieties of flowers “All flowers should arrive in fruit jar containers or low pans. Included on the flower show program are short talks on flowers and points on judging which would follow the awarding of prizes.” All persons are invited to participate.
The following year, 1940, the program appeared much the same, but the flower show and the display of the 4-H girls projects would be presented in the basement of the county courthouse rather than various buildings in Preston’s downtown.
Mayor J. C. Forsgren, in 1941, proclaimed “Dress Up Days,” that took place the week of the activities. Everyone, citizenry and business owners, all were encouraged to add to their apparel — at least two items, such as: boots, shirts, skirts, tie or neck piece, and hats. Anyone who failed had the possibility of being hauled in and fined in a kangaroo court. Thirty more horse stalls were added to accommodate the equine enthusiasts. Horse pulling contests were added to the events, with teams in three categories: light weight (teams under 2700 pounds), middle weight (teams between 2700 and 3000 pounds), heavy weight (teams weighing 3000 pounds and above).
That year, the exhibits and demonstrations were moved to the air-conditioned Franklin Stake House for the viewing of the public. In 1944, due to World War II, the combined event of rodeo, fair and horseshow was limited to one day only in their summer celebrating.