The Courier News from Blytheville, Arkansas on October 10, 1950 · Page 9
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The Courier News from Blytheville, Arkansas · Page 9

Blytheville, Arkansas
Issue Date:
Tuesday, October 10, 1950
Page 9
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TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10, 1950 BLYTHEVTT.LE (ARK.) COURIER' NEWS Agri Development Of AAissco Spurred By Fair Association 4;- * • . . Present District Expositions Grew Out Of County Fairs of the Mid-20's An organisation responsible to a great extent for the development of agriculture, livestock nnd poultry In this area Is the Mississippi County Fair Association. This group was incorporated In'^ 1933 to revive the annual Mississippi County Fair, which hart become a victim of the depression back in 1831. And it was this organization that since then has built the fair into the great exposition it is today. The Fair Association not only has been Instrumental in keeping the fair going through all these years, but it also has played a prominent part- in helping the city of Blytheville to obtain one of the most complete fairgrounds in the South as well as municipal piu-k. Valued at 8352,000 The fairgrounds and park today have an appraised value of 5352,000 and the fcivo include 73 acres of land. The fairgrounds, known as the Mississippi County Fairgrounds, cover 40 acres of this area, while the remaining 33 acres are devoted to park facilities. The latter is known .as walker park. Both the fairgrounds nnd the 33- acres of the wooded area that make up Walker park are Leased r from the city by the Fair Association under a long-term contract. The first fairs in Mississippi County were held during the mid- Iwentics, and for several years they were alternated between Blytheville and Qsceola every other year. Tents were used lor housing facilities. The early fairs were sponsored by the county chamber of coin- In 1936, plans for a fairgrounds and a municipal park were combined when it w«s learned that an extensive recreation area could be built under the government's work relief program. The Association gave the land tl already owned toward the purchase of the present 13-acre area and soon a $100,000 Works Progress Administration project was under way. The City of Blytheville voted a 538,000 bond issue in order to qualify for the project and when it was completed, city officials leased the park and fairgrounds to the Fair Association because of the active part the organization had taken in helping obtain the project. Included in the 1036 project was a large grandstand, a central exhibit building, n livestock building a half-mile oval race track and a baseball diamond. Named for John B. Walker A 100x200 foot swimming pool and bath house were built in the adjoining park area, which was called Walker Par' in honor 01 John B. Walker. It was Mr. Walker SECTION A—PAGE NINE who had held this ivas i\ tract of timber Li hopes that .if would sooner or later be converted into a park area The pool is built in oval shape with a two foot depth at the edge;! sloping down to a 10 foot depth .it the center. Admission to ... .... „„..,, .„„..„,.. „. ,.„,„- ™ P»!' k ilsclf is frcc ' but « <""*"' merce and when that organi?ation I emission Is charged to the swim folded in 1928. the fairs were spoil- ! lnl " B P 00 '- COUNTV FAIRGROUNDS.—The Mississippi County mlrerouud<, At the extieme ilyhL Is the hog baiir. The grandstand, exhibit building he center section of 40 by 120 ii. * usocj as a combination nil! i 1111; dl " l " B room aml cx - hibit building, it | S equipped with a modern stage and the seating capacity Is about 800. One wing of the building l s used to provide quarters for the Mississippi County demonstration clubs and Includes Kitchen facilities The other wing is used as a lounge Another addition last year was a sice) fence which cost about 58,000. I he group or men actively par- iclpathig In the staging of first, the Mississippi County Fair and later the Northeast Arkansas District pair lias changed down throu"h the years but the hope of the Fair Association to aid in the agricultur- development of this are» renulru the same. 1925— Joncsboro-to-Blythevillf 'Moose' Run Is Resumed From the June 15, 1925, edition of the Blytheville Dally Courier: Leachvllle, Ark., June 15 — The Moose, formerly operated by the J. I.. C. and E. In addition to the two [>a.«t,enger trains between Joneaboro and Blythevltle, but recently taken ofl has been put back Into service. It lakes the place of train No. 1, leaving Blylheville at ^ every morn- ins scene of the annual district fair, is shown here as It appears today. This group of buildings and surrounding area, which Include Walker Park, are owned by the city of Blytheville and are leased under a long term contract to the Mississippi County Fair A'ssocialion, sponsors of the week-long event. The entire area and buildings nave an appraisal value of more than S350.000. The large structure near the center ol the picture, U the $75.000 grandstand and at the extreme left is the Negro exhibit building. Immediately to the right of the grandstand is the main exhibit building and farther over Is the livestock building. sored by the Blytheville Chamber of Commerce. The financial crisis which seized the country along about tills time made its presence felt to such an extent that fair sponsors were forced to call off their annual event after the 1931 affair ended In the red. The park also includes a small lake and only recently the Pair Association placed a flock of tame ducks and geese in the park to roam about at will. On July i. 1936, the project w a s dedicated at an elaborate three-day celebration which includ- 40 Acres I'urch: group of business men ed a rodeo, dance and talks by arious dignitaries, pur-1 Jesse Taylor, civic leader who corporalcd at that time. - _ ; formally presented the park and Financial conditions did not war- fairgrounds to the people, of 'Blv- rant fairs in 1934 and 1935, so the I thcville and Mayor ' Cecil Shane land was rented out for farming. made a . speech of acceptance In behalf of the city. Fair Revived in 19HR In his talk, Mr. Shane praised the efforts of C. H. Wilson, Mcll Brooks, C. G. Smith. B. N. Wilson, Mr Taylor, U. S. Branson. B. A. Lynch. J. H Grain, W F. Wilson. R. E. Blaylock, w. R. Dyess and many others who were responsible for the project. Plans were immediately begun by Hie Pair Association to hold & fair the following fall, and when October rolled around the first county fair since 1931 got under way. No accurate attendance records were kept, but it was estimated that between 50 and 60,000 persons passed through the fairground gates during (he week of the big event. In spile of the record attendance, the Association made only a little above expenses because of unexpected large entries in some departments which made it necessary to provide extra facilities. The Association also thought It highly desirable to offer relatively high purses In order to attract first class entries. But Messed with good weather the first fair in five years drew large crowds each day and greatly stimulated ' .. . Blytheville. • One of the" crowd pleasers at the new fair was the return of horse and harness racing. The nf- . ternoon events packed the stands at every performance. Weather Hurls '37 Fair Pleased with the results, the Association in the form of bad weather and, while the fair was held, it turned out to be a great financial loss. The history of the lair since then has been one of .ips and downs. Rain and cold weather has out deeply In attendance at times, but at others the affair has been highly successful. The 1937 fair records were written in red ink, but the next year's fair turned out so profitable that the 1937 losses were all marked off the books and the budget balanced. Bad weather struck again in each of the next two years, but a successful fair in 19<ll again pulled the Association out of the "In debt" column. The outcome of the battle between the Association and the weather has been aboutr even since then with the Association gaining a slight edge in the past few years. Becomes District Fair 111 1946. the fair was operated as . ,. . ,, - . -. one of the four district fairs held business throughout annually in Arkansas. Other district fairs are held at Fort Smith, Hope and Pine Bluff. Winners In the district fairs arc eligible to enter the state fair at Little Rock and live stock building were built in 1936. while the other two structures were added Ihree years ago. Hidden In the trees Just behind the exhibit and livestock buildings is the new women's exhibit building, a 541,000 structure completed last year, in (lie foreground Is a baseball and softball field CQiiipped for night games and encircled by a half-' mile oval track which has been used for harness racing during some of the fairs. The wooded area behind the buildings is Walker Park. Included In this area is a modern $20,000 swimming pool and bnth house. In the background can be seen the city ol Illy thcville. Beth the park area and fairgrounds take In 13 acres. i the Northeast Arkansas District H. Wilson, J. Mel Brooks, J. A. Pair ' I-ccch, Jeff Roland. Russell Phillips. C.o. Smith, R. D. Hughes and K. E. Blaylock. Mr. Wilson was Its first president and Mr. Brooks Its first secretary. Present officers are L. H. Aiitry. E. T. Humphreys & Company Cotton Merchants F.O.B. Sellers Member: Memphis Gorton Exchange After the 1948 fair, the Assocla- Association went ahead wilh plans lion, in a move t« increase inter- tor the next year, but when timc.est and attendance, decided lo ad- far the fair arrived disaster struck mil people free to the fair Grounds in October, it became known as and charge for the grandstand performances, previously a charge of 75 cents for adults and 50 cents for children had been charged to get in the grounds and all performances inside were free. When it was later lound that free admissions would work to a disadvantage in making contracts with carnivals and might also Interfere with the amount of state aid, it was decided to set an admission charge of 30 cents for adults and 20 cents for children. State ale is furnished through the legislature in the form of funds for payment of premiums and ner- manent improvements at the fairgrounds. •49 Attendance Hits I'eak The 1949 fair showed the wisdom of this move, for attendance records soared to 75.500. Officials gave two reasons for this record crowd—the reduced gate admissions and the return of harness racing, which had been cancelled in 1942 because of the war. The Mississippi County Fair Association is a non-profit corporation consisting of nine directors and three officers. Original directors of the corporation were Hale Jackson, Godfrey V'hite, Clarence president; Paul pryor, treasurer; and Robert E. Blaylock. secretary. Mr. Baylock Is the only remaining member or the old association that first sponsored county fairs back In 1926. The remaining directors Include Charles Abbott, Ross D. Hughes, E. R, Jackson, J.' A. Leech, Russell Phillips, Raleigh Sylvester,' Jesse Taylor, Chris Tompklns and B. O. West. The Northeast Arkansas District is made up of the following 20 counties: Baxter, Fulton, Sharp, Randolph, Clay. Greene, While,' Lawrence, Izard, Stone, Independence, Jackson, Craighead. Clc- bouriie. Poinsett. Cross, crittendcn, St. Francis, Woodruff and Mississippi. New Buildings Added Since the dedication ceremonies In 1936. several new buildings have been added to the fairgrounds Itself. Three years ngo, an Jia.OOO swine building a nd a $7.000 Negro exhibit building, to replace one that had burned, were built. Last year. a women's exhibit building was constructed at a cost of more than $40.000. The building Is constructed In a, T-sliape wltr 1'hones: IJ)-267 64 So. Front St. LOCH!: 8-5S39 8-5830 Memphis, Tenn. Caffey Robertson Co. Cotton Merchant! EXPORT-DOMESTIC Cotton Exchange Bldg. • Memphis, Tenn. ^r E CUE €f f INC CLEANING FUR 6 UJOOL i '}.-••• '.7 /INCE We've Been serving Blytheville and Mississippi County for the past 20 years . yes and PEERLESS CLEANERS has made definite progress. Five modern pick-up and delivery trucks are at your call to give you fast efficient service; service you appreciate. Our cleaning plant is equipped with the best for cleaning; cleaning that must satisfy, and, too, you get low, low prices at PEERLESS. Cal I 2433, the next time you need cleaning and you'll agree PEERLESS is "Blytheville's Home of Fine Cleaning". PEECLEJT CLEANER/ 416 S. Franklin Phone 2433

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