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Letter: Historical society unveiling efforts at this week's fair

By Jerry Fiola, On behalf of Nobles County Historical Society Museum Committee

If you have been tracking the recent activities of the Nobles County Historical Society (NCHS), you may know about our efforts to gather stories and artifacts documenting the county's rural schools from the 1870s to the 1960s. Our research has led to the creation of a historic photograph exhibit, currently being displayed at the Worthington Event Center, that illustrates  the country school experience.

Though we continue to search for materials related to the county's 100-plus one-room schoolhouses, the Historical Society is now ready to take on another heritage preservation project. If you are planning to attend this year's county fair, we encourage you to visit our booth in the Commercial Building, where you will be able to learn more about not one but two new initiatives we will be officially unveiling: collecting the history of the Nobles County Fair, 1955-2018; and documenting various aspects of county life during 1930-1970 from photographs taken by local residents. For the latter activity, which will be more fully publicized in the next few weeks, participants will have an opportunity to compete for up to $750 in cash prizes for the winning entries in a photo contest. Stay tuned for more details.

Meanwhile, back in our fair booth, with the assistance of the Bedford Industries graphic design team, we have created an attractive and informative visual display that presents the back story

for why the NCHS decided to choose these particular preservation projects. Earlier, we had decided to provide fair visitors with a brief history of the Nobles County Fair from when it was first established in 1879. A timeline was constructed to illustrate how the annual fairs had been staged at three different fairground sites over the years. In attempting to flesh out the details of the fair's history during these particular time periods, we came up with a rather remarkable discovery — we had very little information in our files documenting the county fairs since they had moved to its current location. In fact, we have more photos, records and artifacts on county fairs from before 1955 than after.

Unfortunately, one of the things we know from past experience is the longer we wait to compile local history, and attempt to gather the data that can help interpret it, the less likely these items will be available. Therefore, we are putting out an all-call to former as well as current Nobles County residents to aid our efforts to preserve the details of the "fair story" for future generations — before they are lost forever. In particular, we are looking for pictures of  4-H activities, grandstand shows, carnival rides, fair buildings and the fairgrounds themselves. We are also  interested in any fair mementos, including ribbons and trophies from the various awards competitions, prizes won from a carnival game booth or advertising giveaways from local businesses with a fair booth.  

If you have a fair-related object and you are unsure if it would be of use to us, just stop by our booth or give us a call at the NCHS museum, 376-4431. We hope to see you at the fair. You won't want to miss seeing our best booth display ever.