Defiance County Fair Hicksville, Ohio USA
DEFIANCE COUNTY FAIR TREND MEETS TRADITION – Today’s fair has roots stretching back to the 1851 exhibition of the Agricultural Society for Defiance County. On October 7 and 8, cattle, hogs, horses, fowl, etc were gathered on Dr. Colby’s Defiance lot on the north side of the Maumee. Fruit and other articles were displayed at the courthouse. After some years this fair disbanded.
With A.P. Edgerton’s donation of a Hicksville site, area citizens put together a September exhibition. The Northwestern Ohio and Northeastern Indiana District Agricultural Association included Carryall Township from Paulding Co., Indiana’s Scipio, Newville, and Concord Townships, and Farmer, Mark, Milford, and Hicksville Townships.
The centennial edition of the DEFIANCE COUNTY FAIR PREMIUM BOOK (1992) included accounts of those earlier fairs. “in the morning the farmers would go to the fair. The horses were unhitched and tied to the fence around the track, while the family viewed the livestock and displays. At noon, table cloths were placed on the ground and a picnic dinner was enjoyed. The baseball games were in the forenoon and played in the center field.
“There was no running water on the fairgrounds and on old iron pump was kept busy. The floral hall had four entrances and wings with a large rotunda for plants in the center. In this hall, fancy work was displayed, also the merchants and music store kept their wares. The only rides were the ferris wheel and merry-go-round run by little steam engines. The horses rocked with a quick jerk. The rides were 5 and 10 cents.”
Another fair-goer had muddier midway memories. “There were no gravel walks and the fair was always at the rainy season. There were snake shows, baby racks, shooting galleries, ring-a-canes, etc. Novelty stands with whips, canes, balloons, comeback balls, squawkers, and big spiders with coiled wire legs. There were refreshment stands and you might hear one call “Hokey Pokey-Ice Cream”. After dinner, harness racing started. There were no starting gates. When the judge thought they were bunched well, he would yell, “Go!” and the race was on. Between each race there was a free act in the center field. At the close of the harness races, there was a running race.”
Center field attractions included Hicksville’s Men’s and Hart’s Girl Band, solo acts, and S. Noffsinger’s Sherwood Band. Buffalos Bill’s Wild West Rodeo, high wire acts, fireworks, balloon ascensions, and, and livestock parades entertained. “Hicksville’s star actress, Amelia Bingham, always came home for the fair. Everyone knew she was coming since Mr. Bingham came ahead and painted the trunks of the trees in front of the Swilley hotel white with a red heart near the top”.
Due to no electricity, there was no night fair. The Cutter Stock Company or the Earl Stock Company played the whole week at the Huber Opera House. As time passed, the Defiance County Fair changed in some ways and stayed the same in others. “Thus the old fair has come and gone. The new fair will soon be here”.
Thanks to the Hicksville Historical Society for the above information.