Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

CALHOUN COUNTY FAIR

Morning Star, August 15, 2004, pg. 2

Come one, come all to the Calhoun County Fair this week. Yours truly and Joanne McKeever have prepared an historical pictorial display featuring historical photographs and memorabilia from the Calhoun County Fair. Our exhibition this year will be located under the west half of the grandstands. Be sure and stop by and view this as part of your activities. Last year’s display focusing on the 1950s will also be included in this expanded exhibition. Come help us identify people in the photographs, too! We’ve made it easy to re-label the photographs with updates of additional names. Marshall Historian Richard Carver has lent us some of his vast collection for display, especially fair posters, which you’ll want to be sure and see.

One event that was held at the Fair during the 1950s was the annual Calhoun County Labor Picnic. Sponsored by the A.F. of L. and C.I.O. labor unions, it aimed at promoting good relations between the unions and management. The picnic was funded by donations from unions across the county. Everything was free for those attending. Nothing was sold.

In addition to a band concert and free fair rides for the kids, individual prizes were given for the oldest union member, and the largest union family. There was a talent show, and an evening dance. There was also a parade featuring floats of the various factories/manufacturers located in the county.

Several thousand Calhoun County workers and their families attended the Sunday, August 6, 1950 event, which featured special speaker Michigan Governor G. Mennen “Soapy” Williams. As part of his speech, the Gov. demanded immediate price controls to stop rising prices, and the need for a state-wide civil defense program. He also assured the audience that he and a committee of 273 state leaders (which included Albion College president W. W. Whitehouse, and Gale Manufacturing Company president Bob Abbott) were pushing for the U.S. Air Force to locate their new academy at Fort Custer west of Battle Creek.

From our Historical Notebook this week we show Governor G. Mennen “Soapy” Williams dropping by the A. F. of L Union Local No. 413 picnic table of the Albion Malleable Iron Company workers at the Calhoun County Fair. Standing left to right are Governor Williams; followed by Joseph Hummel (1890-1963), Financial Secretary for the Union; and Ray Bricker (1890-1965), Corresponding Secretary. The man seated on the far left with his hair combed “up” is unidentified, as well as the women seated on the right, including the one on the far right chomping down on a drumstick. For the record, the box sitting on the table under the tree states, “Garden Napkins.”


Governor G. Mennen “Soapy” Williams dropping by the A. F. of L Union Local No. 413

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