Wisconsin History Day By Day


Related Web Sites:
Wisconsin State Fair

Collections Documents State Fair History


Read More About It

"Brief History of the Wisconsin State Fair"

"Wisconsin State Fair: A Brief History"

"150 Years of the Wisconsin State Fair: An Illustrated History"


Vocabulary:

hosted
current
events


Interesting Fact:

The first state fair attracted an estimated 13,000 to 18,000 people over two days, the largest gathering for any event in the state's three year history.


Study Questions:

  • What other Wisconsin cities have hosted the state fair?
  • Where is the current site of the Wisconsin State Fair?
  • What events and programs were offered at the first state fair?


    Search these newspaper databases for additional stories about the state fair:

  • Newspapers on BadgerLink
  • Wisconsin Historical Society


    U.S. historical events that occurred on October 2:

    1967: Thurgood Marshall becomes the first black on the U.S. Supreme Court.



  • October 2

    October 2, 1851: The first state fair ended after being held for two days in Janesville at the Rock County fairground.

    The (Janesville) Gazette, Oct. 9, 1851

    THE FAIR - This great occasion, sanguine as were the anticipations of its projectors, fairly outstripped the caculations (sic) of everybody, both in the numbers in attendance, and in the extent and quality of the articles exhibited. The committee of arrangements supposed they were making the most sample preparations, and our hotels and private boarding houses, it was thought would be capable of entertaining all who might be in attendance from abroad, but when the rush came, and our steets began to fill up, it was soon discovered that all of our preparations were inadequate. Early on Tuesday before the fair, the telegraph was put in lively requisition by persons abroad for engaging rooms, and before night there were no rooms to spare, and those who had not been so fortunate as to secure them, were obliged to come at a venture, and rely on the hospitality of private citizens, which we may here say for the honor of our town, was most cordially extended to them. Nor were the accommodations for man in any greater demand than shelter for beast. There was not a stable or stall in town but what was filled, and many horses had to stand in the open air over night, hitched to trees and fences.
    As soon as the gates of the fair ground were thrown open, there was a general scramble for tickets, for certificates of membership and for admission upon the ground, and the whole area soon became densely occupied.
    The quantity and quality of the articles exhibited, and the excellence of their arrangement, were far beyond what any one had anticipated, and all were taken by the most agreeable surprise. We cannot pretend to enumerate the articles; a list of the premiums awarded will be found in another column, which must answer that purpose.
    We hear the expression of no other sentiment than that of gratification with this, our first state fair. Everything was done "decently and in order," everybody seemed to be pleased and happy; there was no fighting nor drunkenness, as too commonly the case in such large gatherings ...


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