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Old Racetrack at the Fairgrounds

Old Racetrack at the Fairgrounds

History of the Mower County Fair
Mower County Agricultural Horticulture and Mechanics Society

On the third of September 1863, the board of County Commissioners published a

call for the organizing of a society of the farmers of the county. Prominent citizens of the
county met at the post office in Austin Sept. 23, 1863; appointed committees to draft a
constitution. This society held its first fair at the village of Lansing during the second
week of October 1864. It was a success.

Mower County Agricultural Society

During the year 1868 the project of organizing a second Agricultural Society was
agitated. On July 31, 1868 a number or prominent citizens met at the brick school in
Austin. The society held it’s first fair on October 14 and 15th 1868.
The present society was organized at the meeting of the Grange Council held October 1,
1874. When it was found that the farming class was anxious to organize an Agricultural
Society such as existed in many other counties. After preliminaries the farmers
proceeded to organize a society by electing officers from within and without the Grange.
The society was to be called the Mower County Agricultural Society and its object was
the promotion of agricultural, horticultural and the mechanical arts.

The society was incorporated March 31, 1875. The annual county fair is now
held at Austin and the livestock exhibit at the fairs exceeds that of any county fair in the

Original Grounds Awoning Park 25.6 Acres
Galloway Pit added in 1948 5.6 Acres
Dee Property 1949 7.1 Acres
City Pit 1951 9.41 Acres
Zerkel Property 5.0 Acres
Nickelson Pit 2.1 Acres

Interest Faded

In 1882 citizens urged the Agricultural Society to join with the farmers Alliance.
This was a progressive group, which promoted farmers interests. At the meeting of the
Farmers Alliance on July 5, 1882 the committee voted to aid the Agricultural Society in
soliciting funds to purchase permanent grounds for the County Fair.
Early 1883 the Agricultural Society purchased the Austin Driving Park for use as
a County Fairgrounds. The cost was $1,800. In Sept. 1883, the Basford Building burned.
Basfords were printing the premium book. All was lost and could not be replaced by the
set fair time so the fair was canceled.

Finally in 1884 Mower County’s first successful fair was held on the grounds of
the former Austin Driving Park. (Where we are now) This was the first of a succession
of prosperous County Fairs to be held at the location.

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