Iowa History Daily: On October 10, 1910, the first National Cattle Congress (then Iowa Dairy Cattle Congress) came together in Waterloo. The iconic agricultural annual fair and year-round event space has consistently drawn visitors from far and wide for over 110 years.
Growing out of five previously held dairy cattle congresses, other Midwestern cities vied to hold the event the year it debuted along the Cedar River in Waterloo. After organizing the first five events, Iowa State University Professor Hugh Van Pelt gets credit for moving the 1910 show to Black Hawk County and organizing the event. Van Pelt even secured ‘13 car loads of the choicest cattle’ from the Illinois State Fair to appear at the inaugural event.
In 1911, the event nearly moved to Des Moines. However, Waterloo put up $6,000 and $8,000 in prize money to secure the return of the event for a second year. In 1912 the event moved from Chautauqua Park to the location familiar to Iowans today. Iconic venues including Electric Park and the Hippodrome draw a variety of visitors for everything from high-profile entertainment to agricultural exhibits.
Although challenges including the Great Depression, World War II, weather, and a failed entry into the Greyhound racing business, the National Cattle Congress continues to prove a staple of the Cedar Valley. Today the annual fair takes place after state fairs and offers exhibitors from throughout the greater Midwest to see how their prize-winning cattle stack up against other champions. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar