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Various activities were planned for that 1907 fair, a three day event, including displays of animals and agriculture, rocks and minerals, hot air balloon rides, auto and livestock parades, horse races and other features that resemble a county fair.
This year's fair marks the 100th anniversary of the name, but historians note that it's not the 100th annual event: In the early days, the fair was not always annual often held every other year or sometimes not at all, such as during times of war.
That fair's name came from events of the day: The construction of a dam three miles upstream from Grants Pass allowed for the generation of hydroelectric power and pumped Adidas Climacool All Black
Year round operations were threatened earlier this year when the Josephine County Board All Star Adidas Gold
water through a pipe up the northern hillside, where it emptied into a ditch and delivered water via gravity to the Golden Drift Mine.
At that time, the fair was held downtown, with exhibitors staged in tents along I Street as well as inside the Calvert Paddock building, now home to Elegance antique shop and other businesses.
Of course, things looked different in the fair's earliest days, when events were held at several locations around the county before the fairgrounds were established in 1927. And the event itself, officially named the Josephine County Fair in 1914, actually dates back a bit further than the century celebration about to get under way.
"In 1914, the fair was moved to Murphy, and for the first time was called the Josephine County Fair," Pruitt wrote. The state had established a foundation for governing county fairs the previous year.
It costs about $625,000 annually to operate the fairgrounds, the Courier recently reported. In mid July, fairgrounds officials reported the operation's books were in the black, thanks to a combined effort of community fundraising, grant moneys and enterprise revenue sources, including rental fees.
of Commissioners issued an ultimatum that the fairgrounds had to pay its own way or be closed. Officials said the 2014 fair, however, was never in jeopardy of being canceled.
The fairgrounds, which spent much Adidas Climacool White Trainers
According to Booth's writings, the current fair was foreshadowed by the 1907 Grants Pass Irrigation and Industrial Fair. That event, spearheaded by the Grants Pass Commercial Adidas Crazy Strike Basketball Shoes Womens Club, later known as the Grants Pass Chamber of Commerce, was distinctive in that the name was chosen "purposely, so the event wouldn't be interpreted as a county sponsored agricultural fair," Booth wrote.
The fair could have even earlier beginnings, according to Deb West, Josephine County Fair historian and granddaughter of Percy T. Prior to that West served as his research assistant.
Meanwhile, by 1911, the county agricultural fair established two years earlier in Williams "had become so popular that exhibitors came all the way from Kerby and Fruitdale," Pruitt wrote. "In fact, it became so popular that Grants Pass took it away from Williams in 1912 and called it the Josephine County Grange Fair."
Longtime Grants Pass resident and historian Michael Oaks recalls watching the 1949 midget race. "It was really something," he said of the small cars racing around the track. Oaks enlisted in the military for the next four years, so the 1949 event was the only race he attended.
If the past is any indicator of the future, crowds will line up Wednesday through Saturday to see displays of produce and livestock, ride the Ferris wheel and watch the tractor pulls it's good, old fashioned fun.
Neighbors complained about the noise of the midget cars, and the event eventually was cancelled. Despite this, in the 1960s through the '70s, motorcycle races roared around the track. That also was ended due to noise complaints, Oaks said.
One excitement for 1907 fair visitors, Booth wrote, was the discovery of gold in the dirt, rock and gravel of Sixth Street by an old prospector. Sixth Street had been partially graveled with rock from the Golden Drift Dam site along the Rogue River.
Structures have come and gone over the years, but many of the early buildings are still in use today. The commercial building looks much as it did in early days, except windows were covered and the ceiling lowered in recent years to maintain temperature control, West said.
In the 1964 fair program, then fair manager Lee Pruitt indicated the first fair was held in 1909, when local farmers gathered at the Woodman Hall in Williams to show produce and handiworks.
100 years of fun at Jo County Fair
In 1927, the county approved spending $25,000 for property to build a permanent home for the popular event, and the fairgrounds were established south of town off Redwood Highway. An exhibit building, pavillion and livestock sheds were ready for the fair that fall.
The original entrance, which resembled a military fort, with stone pillars on each side, was torn down in the mid 1950s.
The grounds have been home to the fair ever since minus a four year stretch during World War II, when the fair was discontinued for several years and the grounds hosted travelling military troops, as well as local dances and ball games.
The 1950s saw construction of a portable wooden floor, which could be placed inside the arena for dancing. Part of that floor remains in use today for dances at the Midway Stage.
From its beginnings in the 1930s in southern California, midget racing spread quickly across the country after WWII. A midget racing club was formed in Grants Pass in 1948, and from 1949 through the early 1950s midget races were a part of the county fair. The Caveman Speed Bowl, a 1/5 mile granite track, was constructed in front of the main grandstands.
In 1948, a gully overgrown with blackberries was filled in to make room for the covered arena, a project instigated by the Josephine County Sheriff's Mounted Posse, an emergency services auxiliary group that's been a major force at the fair since its formation in 1946, West said.
In 1916, the Josephine County Fair returned to Grants Pass, this time taking over what was known as "the Ball Park" or City Park, now Riverside Park. Excepting a hiatus during World War I, the fair continued at the park until 1926. Large tents housed the exhibits and, in 1923, a horse racing track was built around the park's baseball diamond, with a grandstand that served both.
Surplus power and water was used for industry and irrigation in the valley below.
of this year in a fight for its life, will this week play host to the Josephine County Fair as it marks 100 years.
Even now, gold panning is one fair attraction that continues to intrigue young and old, West noted.
A horse racing track and grandstand were early additions to the fairgrounds. Unlike the current racetrack, built in the 1970s, which sits east to west, the original track laid north to south and, in the late 1940s, was inset with a smaller track for racing midget cars.
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