Iowa History Daily: August 27 - A Palace of Bluegrass

Iowa History Daily: On August 27, 1889, the Creston Bluegrass Palace opened to the public. The 92’ tall structure built of veneered bails of hay and straw featured exhibits from 12 of 18 counties represented in the Blue Grass League of Southwest Iowa.

During the 1880s, southwestern Iowa joined Kentucky and Russia as major international growers of bluegrass. By late-February of 1889 a group from Union, Adair, and Clarke counties came together at the Union County Courthouse in Creston. Inviting fifteen other counties known to grow bluegrass to join up, the Blue Grass League of Southwest Iowa formed.

A cash crop used globally during the era to produce ink dye, the league focused on promoting bluegrass globally. Starting with pamphlets, efforts eventually fixated on constructing a ‘hay palace’ for the annual fair the following August. Following in the footsteps of Sioux City’s Corn Palace, locals soon decided to construct a palace of hay.

By August the huge pressed bails stretched 100’ on each side and 120’ in the air at the Union County Fairgrounds. Exhibits included a Greek goddess made of corn, a horse covered in bluegrass, as well as other attractions. Specific events over the August 27 to September 7 run included Old Settlers’ Day, days celebrating individual counties, and even a wedding. The palace fair continued in 1890 and 1891 before discontinuation in the run-up to the Chicago World’s Fair. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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