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Iowa History Daily: October 27 - Iowa's First State Fair

Iowa History Daily: On October 27, 1854, the first ever Iowa State Fair ended in Fairfield. From a three day event only a few years after statehood to one of Iowa’s fondest traditions, the Iowa State Fair continues to draw visitors for a variety of displays, activities, and other opportunities to celebrate all things Iowa.

In 1853 two eastern Iowa men, Thomas Clagett of Keokuk and Fairfield’s J.M. Schaffer, sought to bring together local and county agricultural associations from across the state to form a broader organization unified by common interest. Meeting in Fairfield during December of 1853, the Iowa State Agricultural Society drew attendees from only five counties.

Although the initial meeting drew less interest than hoped for by Clagett and Schaffer, the group started preparations for an agricultural fair in Fairfield to be held the following October. With a budget of $323, the group planned out an event featuring livestock, crops, fruits, vegetables, farm implements, machinery, and other oddities spread over six acres.

In 1855, Fairfield again hosted the fair before organizers developed a rotating schedule in order to allow access to the fair for those who couldn’t travel. Muscatine, Oskaloosa, Iowa City, Dubuque, Burlington, Clinton, Keokuk, and Cedar Rapids all played host to the Iowa State Fair before moving permanently to Des Moines in 1878. The current fairgrounds on the East Side of Iowa’s Capital City first hosted the fair starting in 1886. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar


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