Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, July 12, 1998, pg. 10
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Calhoun County Fair, to be held August 16-22 at the fairgrounds in Marshall. This is one of those anniversaries that has some qualifiers in it. The Calhoun County Agricultural Society was actually organized in 1838, with the first fair being held on November 5, 1839. It was a one-day event held in a vacant store on State Street in Marshall, with a livestock display in an adjacent lot (217-219 E. Michigan Avenue). The original committee consisted of J. S. Fitch, H. J. Phelps and Charles D. Smith, with Thomas W. Wells as the secretary. Another fair was held on November 4, 1840 (the first to offer cash premiums) and a Mechanic’s Fair in 1845.
Early fairs were held at various sites in Marshall, the county seat. When Marshall lost out to become the state capital in 1847, the land that had been reserved for the state capitol building was then designated as the county fairgrounds. The 1849 fair (and presumably the 1848 one, too) was held here, but the 1852 fair was held on Hart Street. Documentation on fair dates and locations during these early years is sparse.
To celebrate the 100th Anniversasry of the fair in 1948, there was issued a special token which was good for 25˘ in trade. Back then 25˘ could go a long way. The elaborately designed trade tokens were struck in pewter, and measure 32 mm. in diameter.
The obverse design carries a triangle in the center with the legend, "Calhoun County Fair." On top is a scene of a covered wagon and oxen, symbolic of the pioneers who came to our county. On the left is a log cabin and the date "1848." On the right is the County building and the date "1948." At the bottom is the word "Centennial."
The reverse contains the text which declares: Top: "Michigan’s Oldest County Fair" Center" Bottom: "Redeem Before Sept 1, 1948." From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of that token. How many of our readers remember these?
Today of course the Fair is run by the Calhoun County Agricultural and Industrial Society. We congratulate them on their 150th anniversary. The Fair has issued special 150th anniversary cookbooks which you may wish to purchase, and has other commemorative items. Just call the fair office for more information at (616) 781-8161.
Calhoun County Fair Token, 1948
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