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The Lake County Fair in 1914!

A few weeks ago, Lake County held its annual fair right here in Libertyville. Ever since the first fair held in September 1852, the Lake County Fair has been a huge hit with the citizens of Lake County. The fair was originally run through the Lake County Agricultural Society, which was established in 1851 to promote the interests and stress the importance of agriculture. Since 1928, the fair has been run through the Lake County Fair Association.
Photograph of the Lake County Fair in the 1910s.

One hundred years ago in September 1914, the fair was touted by the Lake County Independent Register as the “most successful exposition ever held.” Holding some new exhibits and acts that became staples to the modern fairgoer, the fair that year seemed to have it all. This was especially true for a generation that didn’t have televisions, computers or other forms of entertainment that we take for granted today. People also took to the fair in many different ways, automobile, horse drawn buggies, horseback, train or walking in what must of seemed like a merging of eras.

People attending Lake County Fair in 1913.

Live music is the highlight at almost any event, even today, providing something to dance to and setting the mood. The fair provided several different musical acts. This Included the Allandale Boys, who were asked to perform an additional day after their first performance was such a hit. Another form of entertainment presented was a moving picture film. The film was about a young woman who steals a mule, gets the mule into a automobile and ends up getting into a police chase. It was seen as having little plot, but entertaining none the less. 

Not surprisingly, one of the main highlights of the fair was the livestock. It was noted that the Horse Show exhibition was a little low due to a prominent citizen, Samuel Insull, being away at another show.  Overall the animal exhibits were still deemed impressive which were stocked with horses, cattle, swine and other livestock. As with any good fair, there were awards given out to the prize livestock.

The fairgrounds were very proud of their racetrack and had several events taking place on it. Different types of horse racing, paces and distances were performed. Horses weren’t the only ones to race as several local people, men and women, competed in foot races.
Flyer from the Lake County Independent in August of 1914.
Food was provided by various churches and organizations, which claimed to be “as good as the food from your table.”  The Women’s Christian Temperance Union provided an area for women and children to rest and a place to bring fairgoers who may have taken sick. Two things noticeably missing were alcoholic beverages, which were banned in Libertyville in 1913. Also games of chance were banned by the fair organizers as the fair didn’t have any room for such “con games”.
A concept that fair officials had to bring in people was to have a baseball game played every day.  Local towns put teams together and faced off on the diamond. One such match up was Greyslake beating up on Antioch by a score of 12-2.
Baseball game played at the Fair in early 1900s.

The weather was listed as being very pleasant, but the wind almost detracted two of the most publicized events. One stunt was to send a hot air balloon into the sky and have a “high diver” jump out and safely land using a parachute.

With great weather and plenty to do, the 1914 Lake County Fair exceeded organizers expectations. The Fair is a great reminder that while some aspects of life may have been more difficult in the past, the fair has always provided a great outlet to have fun.


Categories: Local History

Tags: Local History

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