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State Fair of Texas enjoyed by Fannin County through time
By Malinda Allison, Fannin County Historical Commission
Sep 30, 2018
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Fannin County, Texas -- The State Fair takes place in Dallas this year from September 28 - October 21.  Many residents of Fannin County attend the Fair every year and enjoy it very much.

The Fair began in 1887 and Fannin County residents have apparently enjoyed and participated in the Fair since the early days.

Early on the trains from Bonham and Honey Grove had special rates for Fair visitors.  The ad below is from the October 3, 1905 Bonham News.  The Honey Grove Signal reported on October 15, 1910 that "through the Dallas Fair season the Santa Fe train will leave each morning at 6:50 am and returning will leave Dallas at 7 o'clock pm.  This is a splendid schedule for those who desire to visit the Fair.  The train will arrive Dallas about 10:30, giving those who can spend only one day an opportunity to see a great deal of the fair."  On one Sunday in October 1910 about 350 people from Honey Grove went to the fair on the train.

What a wonder it must have been in those days to attend the Fair.  As stated in the Honey Grove Signal on October 29, 1911:

The Dallas Fair is only two week's in the future, and who is it that isn't anxious for the intervening two weeks to get out of the way?  The Dallas Fair is the great Texas holiday, the biggest time of the year for the money.  Armed with five or six dollars, a fellow can pay railroad fare, entrance into the exposition grounds, see two or three of the side shows, ride on the figure eight, pay a night's lodging, eat a hot weiner for dinner and a chile for supper and get back home perhaps with a quarter in his pocket.  At the fair he will see all the world's improved machinery, the finest horses, cattle, hogs and chickens on earth, the biggest pumpkins, the finest cotton and all the other products of the greatest state in the Union.  He will hear a fine band play, meet his friends from everywhere, and, if he likes such exercise, may feast his eyes upon twenty thousand of the prettiest women on each arrayed in a manner to lay the daisies, dahlias, and dandelions all in the shade.  Hurry up the big show. 

Lula Gilmer
Fannin County not only attended the Fair, but participated in the Fair exhibits.  In 1910 Miss Lula Gilmer of Honey Grove won first prize at the Dallas fair for embroidered table linens,"the design and work having been pronounced by many who saw it the prettiest they ever saw anywhere."

Many of the exhibits were agricultural.  In 1912 there was a push for Fannin County to exhibit corn, cotton and milo at the Fair.

Seeing the new automobiles has always been a major Fair attraction.  (When I was a youngster in Vernon my grandfather, who was a car salesman, always took us to the State Fair and I remember seeing the new cars and the Ice Capades.)  The article below from the Bonham Daily Favorite September 20, 1920 says that the Automobile Building may not be big enough for all the automobiles to be exhibited.

In 1928 a herd of cattle from Fannin County won 3rd place.  That same year T. J. Humphrey was sending 14 chickens to the Fair for competition.  The Bonham Daily Favorite reported that he had sent chickens to the fair about a dozen times and had always won prizes.

In 1932 there were many State Fair winners among the Fannin County Home Demonstration and 4-H club members.  "Fannin county led all others in the number of prizes won for the third consecutive time."  Ladies won first place for English peas, canned cherries, pickled peaches, pickled onions, cryst. citrus peel and pillow slip.  In 1933 Fannin County Home Demonstration Clubs again won with 9 blue ribbons, 5 seconds and 7 third, in competition with 120 counties.

In 1934 the ladies from Trenton won first place with a quilt, as well as several other prizes.

At some point in time the various counties began to would mount individuals exhibits.  The Fannin County exhibit in 1938 was 14 feet long, 8 feet wide with a background of 5 feet.  It had a soil type map of Fannin County on the background, and a map showing towns, highways, roads, carvings of the courthouse, two federal park lodges, the state park, and the principal industries as cotton, swine and poultry.  (How I wish we had a photograph of this exhibit!)

In 1948 the Fair was back with lots of fun after the war years, including Jimmy Durante.

We are sure that everyone attending the Fair this year will enjoy it just as much as those attending in the part.  (And I bet many of you wish you could go on the train.)