Niobrara County Fairgrounds
Our First County Fair
Impressions of the first annual Niobrara County fair written by a 6th grade school boy and given in his own words:
"Well there was two days of the fair in Lusk.
"That morning I had to go to school and get my lessons and I didn't like that but it was soon dinner time. I ran down town and ate my dinner and went and got my horse. I then went out to the fair grounds and got by an auto and let my horse stand.
"There was some foot racing and then came the bucking contest. They saddled a horse called Lightning creek and he throwed his rider off, The put a saddle on a horse named Blackbird without a blindfold and he ran away with the saddle thru crowds of people and ran into the automobile where I was and missed me about an inch. I got out of there in a hurry and then they caught him and saddled him up again and the rider rode him.
"And then came some fancy riding. A man would stand up in the saddle and let the horse run. Then another man would get down beside the horse and pick up his bat. After that I went up town and rode on the merry-go-round. The I went off to the giggle and watched other people ride.
"Then I went down the street where a woman had some stuffed kittens and throwed base balls at them. If any one throwed she would hollower, she would say "He went through the window, he didn't get a tickle."
"There was a man who had blocks of wood which had watches and a knife and if you put the ring over the blocks you would get a dollar. But you couldn't put the rings over very often.
"I went down to a place where they had guns to shoot. I shot and got a pin and a key holder. If you hit the right number you would get a gold watch.
"The second day I didn't do much in the morning but in the afternoon had a little fun. I went on the grand stand and let another kid ride my horse.
"They had some running and once they never got started right and they said "Whoo!" and Kenneth Miller's horse bucked with him and threw him off. A kid was going to ride a horse called Blackbird. One of the judges said he put up a good ride but he had too much horse.
"Arthur Thompson rode I -be-dam and got second prise. A man by the name of Lee rode Lightning creek and the judges told the other fellows to catch the horse but they didn't do it and he got thrown off. He wouldn't have got thrown off if the saddle hadn't got on the horses neck. He got first prise.
I went up town and got bamberger and ate it. There was a place where men to see how far they could nocke a brood but they couldn't nocke it very high.
"I went home and went to bed and the next morning I didn't get up till way late.
"I hope they have another fair next year."
The Jireh Record, September 13, 1913
NIOBRARA COUNTY FAIR
Splendid Display of Farm Products and Live Stock
TWO DAYS, SEPT. 25-26
Large Attendance and Much Enthusiasm Expected
Just two more weeks and the first Niobrara County Fair will be inaugurated at Lusk, and considering the magnificent crops that have been harvested, a record should be made of which all citizens may well be proud.
Farmers and ranchmen are requested to take a little time and select grains and roots for exhibition and if this is done the result will be remarkable and memorable, for without doubt Niobrara county is the peer of any dry farm district in the state. Everyone is therefore urged to do his share toward making the first Fair a grand success.
The racing and wild west features of the program will be as attractive as they cam possible be made, and every minute of the two days will be full of fun and frolic--there will be something doing all the time. There will also be foot races and a ball game each afternoon.
Remember the dates--September 25 and 26--and make your plans accordingly!
The Jireh Record, October 4, 1913
NIOBRARA COUNTY FAIR
Splendid Exhibits; Excellent Program; Two Big Days
The first annual Niobrara County Fair, held Thursday and Friday, September 25 and 26, was a grand success and has passed into history as an occasion which reflects unstinted credit on those having having charge of the arrangements and also the exhibitors and all who partook in the various events. Two or three boisterous stormy days early in the week portended bad weather but everybody was hopeful for a couple of nice days and their expectations were fully realized on Friday, for a more perfect day could not have been desired. Although Thursday was bright with
Wyoming sunshine a chilly wind prevailed which kept many from going out to the fair grounds, but on the following day everybody and his wife, his sisters and his cousins and his aunts, yea, and his best girl, all were there. During the two days no accident happened to mar the enjoyment of the spectators, except on the last day in one of the races when Jim Todd's boy was thrown from his horse, receiving a broken or badly sprained wrist and being knocked unconscious. He recovered consciousness in a couple of hours after the accident and will be all right when the wrist mends.
The usual number of shows and places of amusement lined one side of the block on Main street between 2nd and 3rd streets, and all were patronized, the merry-go-round and the "giggle' being the centre of attraction for both young and old . Out at the fair grounds an acrobat and a clown amused the crowd between the regular events on the program. Fancy riding and roping and exhibitions of bucking were pulled off in front of the grand stand by a team of fancy riders fro Wheatland both afternoons and some of their stunts were well executed.
With the exception of the tug of war all the numbers were on the program for the first day were contested and the preliminaries in the bucking contest were had, the following being winners:
Cow pony race--L. B. Cook's horse, 1st; Jim Christian's 2nd.
100 yard foot race--Ed Colgan, 1st; Jim Tenny, 2nd.
Cow girl race--L. B. Cook's horse, 1st; H. E. Barnes', 2nd.
Foot race, boys over 10 and under 16--Willie Mill, 1st; Oscar Larson, 2nd.
Foot race, boys under 10--Punk McGinnis, 1st; Donald Miller, 2nd.
The festivities of the second day were opened with a ball game between Fort Robinson' soldier team and the local club. As the soldiers had to leave on the morning train for the west the game went only five innings to a tie. Up to the fifth inning it looked like a walkaway for the soldiers, they having at the end of the inning piled up 10 runs , to one lone tally for the locals in four innings; but there was something doing in their half of the 5th. With one man down and five runs across the plate, the veteran Burr Shipely was put in as a pinch hitter in place of Jinks was the "jinks" all right in the fourth, allowing the soldiers to score six of their runs--Burr made a pretty single and the six men who followed either hit the ball or were given their bases, with the result that before Lester struck out as 14th man up the local boys had scored 9 runs and tied the score. It was a great exhibition of a batting rally.
The beautiful weather of the afternoon brought out a record crowd to the fair grounds, there being in the neighborhood of 800 people present to witness the different events. The results were as follows:
Cow pony race--L.B. Cook's horse, 1st; P.E. Barber's, 2nd.
Novelty race, walk trot run--Tom Miller, 1st, winning a bridle presented by Giinther and Giinther; A. Thompson, 2nd.
Wagon race--Cook and Cummings, 1st; Doman, 2nd.
Country boys' race--Emmet Barnes won a pair of spurs.
Country girls' race--Dorothy Barnes won a special prize of a bridle.
Pony race--Emmet Barnes, 1st; Donald Miller, 2nd.
Free-for-all race--L.B. Cook's horse, 1st; P.E. Barber (Brownie Hancock), 2nd.
Bucking contest--C.E. Lee, Jireh, 1st; Arthur Thompson, Kirtley, 2nd. The horses ridden in this contest were I Be Dam, Lightning Creek and Old Woman Creek and they proved to be buckers which were hard to subdue, but both Lee and Thompson put up game rides.
Automobile race--Seven entries brought out six different cars Thursday evening, The Metz car, driven by Dr. Stephenson making the distance-3 blocks- in 32 seconds. This time was reduced on Friday evening, a Ford car guided by Emil Wasleben, covering the course in a little better than 29 seconds. Dr. Stephenson was unable to be present, so the race will be run again at some future time, as the doctor claims the right to another "try."
The number of horses shown in the different classes proved that horse raining was receiving a good deal of attention in Niobrara county ans some very fine animals were on exhibition. The winners are as follows: W.T. Wolfe, 3 firsts and one second; C.W. Larson, 1 first; Harry Hargraves, 11 firsts and 2 seconds; Hitz Brothers, 3 first and 2 seconds; Wm.Pinkerton, 5 firsts and 1 second, M.H. Wilson, 1 second; Wm. Reynolds, 4 first and 2 seconds.
Cattle and sheep were not largely represented, the only winners being W. Reynolds, 4 firsts and 3 seconds for Hereford cattle and Alex Mashek, 1 first for bucks.
The exhibits in the agricultural section--all dry farm products--could not have excelled anywhere and there was not only excellence but greater variety showing the productiveness of Wyoming soil. The names of the winners are subjoined:
Hog millet, W.E. Magoon, 1st
Rye, Clyde Redding, 1st. C.E. Kirkland, 2nd.
Speltz, G.W. Crise, 1st. Frank Shrum, 2nd.
Oats, Clyde Redding, 1st, L. Bates, 2nd.
Mac. wheat, T.L. Thompson, 1st. G.J. Lorenzen, 2nd.
Barley, R.J. Barnes, 1st. James Mudra, 2nd.
Flax, Hitz Bros., 1st. W.L. Magoon, 2nd.
M. Wheat, Chris Larson, 1st.
H. Barley, C.C. Quigley, 1st.
Winter Wheat, J.J. ZumBrunnen, 1st.
Early Ohio, Emma Handka, 1st. H.H. Moore, 2nd.
Six weeks, James Elliott, 1st, A.E. Cornett, 2nd.
Blue Victor, James Elliott, 1st
Strawberry, James Elliott, 1st
Red, August Buchholz, 1st
Cabbage, Mrs. A. Koester, 1st
Stock Beets, Geo. Leonard 1st, John Peery 2nd
Sugar beets, Geo. Leonard, 1st
Turnips, Geo. Leonard, 1st, A. Buchholz, 2nd
Carrots, M.J. McCormick 1st, Naomi Reynolds, 2nd
G.T. Beets, Naomi Reynolds, 1st
Table beets, Geo. Leonard 1st, John Peery 2nd
Cantaloupe, John Peery, 1st
Citron, John Peery, 1st
G.H. Squash, John Peery, 1st
Pie Pumpkin, John Peery, 1st
Watermelon, Elsie Jewett 1st, Willard Magoon, 2nd
Field pumpkin, Naomi Reynolds 1st, Willard Magoon, 2nd
Hub. squash, Mary Federle 1st, Willard Magoon, 2nd
Muskmelon, Willard Magoon, 1st, John Peery, 2nd
Celery, Mrs. Fred Rogers, 1st
Cucumbers, Mrs. Fred Rogers, 1st
Garden Lemon, Mrs. Fred Rogers, 1st
Tomatoes, Mrs. E.A. Cook, 1st
Apples, W.T. Wolfe, 1st
Crab apples, Do, 1st and 2nd
Sunflower, Herman Titze, 1st, A. Mashek, 2nd
Rye, Emma Handka, 1st
Hog Millet, W.T. Wolfe, 1st
Cossack Millet, W.W. Milburn, 1st
Buckwheat, A.L. Sparks, 1st
Beardless Barley, W.K. Daniels, 1st
Speltz, Carl Dallam, 1st, Frank Shrum 2nd
Wheat, Walter Martin, 1st, W.W. Milburn, 2nd
Mac. wheat, W.W. Milburn, 1st, W. J. Russell, 2nd
Oats, Wm. Sothman, 1st, Walter Martin, 2nd
Brome grass, E.W. Stigle, 1st
Alfalfa, M.J. McCormick, 1st, Wm. Pinkerton, 2nd
Timothy, Jalmer Thom, 1st
Squaw corn, Geo. Leonard, 1st, A. Buchholz, 2nd
Jehu corn, Geo. Leonard, 1st, James Mudra, 2nd
Flint, W.E. Magoon, 1st, James Mudra 2nd
Pop corn, John Peery, 1st, Naomi Reynolds, 2nd
Niobrara Dent, M.J. McCormick, 1st and 2nd
Dakota Dent, A.L. Sparks 1st, Fred Baars, 2nd
Yellow Dent, John Peery, 1st, Geo. Leonard, 2nd
Flax, A. Bruch, 1st, Wm. Criswell, 2nd
Special Fair Premiums
A.P. Stewart Lumber Co., Two gallons Lincoln Climatic Paint for largest watermelon. Won by Miss Elsie Jewett
G.C. & A.H. Forsythe, one year subscription to Van Tassell Pioneer for biggest cow pumpkin. Won by Miss Naomi Reynolds.
Forsythe & House, one year subscription to Jireh Record for largest squash. Won by Miss Mary Federle.
Mrs. Helena Parker, for best-looking-baby, a baby bonnet. there was no contest.
H.C. Snyder & Co., for best loaf bread made of Swan's Down Flour. Wom by Mrs. T.B. Allcorn.
J.D. Lorenzen, 500 pounds best coal, for best peck of oats. Won by Clyde Redding.
J.E. Mayes, bushel box of apples for best peck of wheat. Won by T.L. Thompson.
M.D. Barnes, $5.00 in merchandise for best peck of flax. Won by Hitz Bros.
Kowalski & Litzo, 10 pounds of lard for best peck of rye. Won by Clyde Redding.
L.A. Baldwin, $5.00 in bakery goods for best peck of hard wheat. Won by J.J. ZumBrunnen.
Miss Leah Betts, $3.00 in merchandise for best piece fancy needlework, Won by Mrs. Anna M. Hawthorne.
Lusk Standard, year subscription for peck of onions. No Onions exhibited. Giinther & Giinther, $5.00 pair of hand-made spurs for best cow horse shown. Won by Emmett Barnes.
Fred A. Boyd, $3.00 in merchandise for best peck of speltz. Won by G.W. Crise.
E.C. Hardegen, one gallon Masury's best paint for best Jersey cow exhibited. No contest.
Wm. Delahoyde, $5.00 cash for best sheaf of rye. Won by Mrs. Emma Handka.
Root & Hardy, box of candy, for best drawing by a school pupil. Not decided.
John Barber, one quart of bottled goods for best bushel potatoes. Won by Mrs. Emma Handka.
Lusk Land Co., $5.00 for best dry-grown alfalfa. Won by M.J. McCormick.
Geo. A. Kellar, one square meal for best ear of corn. Won by James Mudra.
Giinther & Giinther, 6 teaspoons for best display of fancy work by one person. Won by Mrs. W.B. Shipley.
In the Art Department there was a magnificent display of ladies' handicraft, including fancy needlework, embroidery, crochet, tatting and lace work; water color. crayon and china painting; and here was displayed a splendid exhibit from the Lusk schools, including map sketches, colored and constructive; pen-and-ink drawings and drawings in crayon and water color; raffia baskets of all sorts and sizes and beautiful botanical specimens. This exhibit is being displayed at the State Fair this week and should bring a number of premiums as the collection is the best ever sent from the Lusk schools.
On both evenings there was a social dance at I.O.O.F. hall and it was a wise stroke of policy for the Fair management to rent the hall for this purpose and the receipts for the two nights were in the neighborhood of $140.00. Altogether the first annual Niobrara County Fair was a decided success and it is believed that after all bills are paid there will be a good sized surplus which can be carried forward as the nucleus of a fund for next year. The officers and the various committees are to be congratulated for the successful carrying out of what was a joy yo all who were present and may their experience of 1913 be of benefit in the conducting of a larger and better fail for a Greater Lusk in 1914.
This account of the first Niobrara county fair would not be complete without referring to the Lusk Band, which supplied such excellent music during the two days. The band boys should receive, and in fact are entitled to, a great deal more local support than they get a present. A good band is a valuable asset to a town and in many places bands receive donations from the town councils. Why could not the Lusk town council appropriate some money for the band? No body would complain if the city dads did loosen up and hand over a few simoleons to help buy music and uniforms for the "boys."
Lusk Free Lance, June 11, 1931
County to Have New Fair Ground Site; Land Bought
Niobrara county is going to have its own fair grounds for the future and in a deal consummated on Monday, the board of county commissioners purchased a tract of land on the south edge of the city from J.E. Mayes, aggregating 33 acres, which will be used for the purpose of the annual agricultural, livestock and home economics showing, and sport events such as the rodeo, or other events which may come in conjunction with the county fair.
This deal has been in the making for several weeks and was begun by members of the board of county commissioners and the county fair board. It came about because of the undesirable location of the present fair grounds and further, because the present site is leased from the Chicago & Northwestern Railway company, and the lease has been made from year to year only. This condition made it necessary that a change be made and a permanent site secured.
The tract purchased is ideally situated for fair purposed and will offer as much or more towards drawing crowds to the fair. A race track of half-mile dimension will be built and the buildings at the present site will be moved as soon as possible. Lights and water will be facilities in the new location that were not available on the railroad's property. It is also planned that a beautification program will soon be started, and trees and shrubbery will be distributed throughout the tract to enhance its appearance.
The completion of this transaction has taken considerable of the time of County Agent Reeves, Thos. M. Fagan, president, and A.E. Johnson, secretary, of the county fair board, and members of the board of county commissioners, but it was well worth while. It is a step toward progress and shows a sincere interest in the accomplishments of this county, so far as exhibiting its products is concerned.
The grounds will also be open for use as a golf grounds, baseball diamond, football field, etc., and it is assured that all these things will be entertained without difficulty.
What the county fair board plans for this year has not yet been decided upon, but it is to be expected than announcement will be made within a short time of any decision which may be reached.
Niobrara County Fairground Auditorium
From The Flint Photography Book at the Niobrara County Library
Lusk versus Casper. First public event in fairground auditorium, 9 December, 1949. You will notice (at the extreme right of photo below) that the game was being broadcast over radio station KSPR. Casper won 32 to 25. The following year Lusk defeated Casper on Natrona County's home court 35 to 32 (just one high school in Casper at the time. In late summer of 1949 the Niobrara County Fair board and the Legend of Rawhide Pageant Corporation constructed two Quonset hut type buildings at the Niobrara County Fairgrounds. Local materials and labor were utilized at a cost of approximately $6,000 (in 1949 dollars), paid for by pageant earnings. The smaller building was designed for livestock exhibition. The larger building had several unique features. The floor surface was made of tile with basketball court markings. This material was used because tile tolerated heavy general use (dances, 4-H exhibits and general meetings) better than a floor constructed of wood. Because the majority of the seating was bleachers at the ends of the building, the basketball backboards were glass. Only a handful of gymnasiums in the state had glass backboards at that time. The building was used for basketball games, including annual invitational high school tournaments, until 1954 when the newly consolidated Niobrara County High School was constructed. through the years the Niobrara County Fairgrounds auditorium has been updated and modified, often with the use if federal grants, and remains (2007) the county's largest all-purpose facility.
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