I will probably work at adding to this in pieces, maybe in the form of a timeline, but I thought it would be fun to start looking at various festivals and fairs held in Southeast Colorado/ Southwest Kansas/ Baca County through the years. Sam Konkel mentions an 1888 fair in Boston, Springfield, and Minneapolis, but there isn’t a whole lot of detail, so I am going to start with one of the earliest events; the 1888 Taloga fair, then add a notice from the 1923 fair, and then throw in one from 1930-31 just for fun. I have to include both Southeast Colorado/ Southwest Kansas as there was quite a connection to our Kansas neighbors in the early days especially before the formation of Baca County.
The first evidence I find for a Southeast Colorado fair or festival is in the September 6, 1888, Topeka, Kansas Farmer which tells of a coming fair.
Sam Konkel provides a few details as follows in the January 24, 1919 edition of the Springfield Herald.
The advisability of holding a town fair this fall was considered Saturday night in a meeting called for this purpose. All were in favor of a fair, and a committee was chosen to report at the next meeting a plan of organization, Capt McCoach, Thos. Hambric, R. W. Whitaker were chosen for the committee. –Western World Aug 30, 1888
The Procession was the biggest part of the fair at Boston that year. Every bushel of any kind and every trade was in line, in addition to a few hundred wagons, buggies and other rigs making displays of crops. The procession was probably a half mile long.
The towns of Minneapolis and Springfield both had fairs that year – we presume making about the same showing that Boston did; and that was the last of the fair business until the county fair was started in 1914.
In the neighboring town of Taloga, Kansas, a joint Kansas / Colorado fair held. If you are not sure where Taloga is, please refer to my 1886-1889 Boomtown map of Southeast Colorado.
Fairs and festivals in Southeastern Colorado, usually broomcorn festivals have always been a time for friends and family to gather and celebrate the hard work of the summer. In the early days, I think it was even a bit more. The events were held to prove to those a little further east that crops could be grown in the Great American Desert as described in The Taloga Star (Taloga, Kansas) · 12 Oct 1888, Fri · Page 3 clipping below:
The Taloga Star (Taloga, Kansas) · 12 Oct 1888, Fri · Page 3
Colorado towns participating in the 1888 Taloga Fair were as follows:
Activities and Prizes for the Joint Morton / Las Animas County Fair
…and more activities,
Potential Crops and Exhibits for the 1888 fair,
Started again in 1914, the fair had become an annual event when this notice in the Johnson, KS paper (Johnson City Pioneer and Journal-News (Johnson, Kansas) · 07 Sep 1923, Fri · Page 1) was printed:
Next, we are going to head down the road a few years to 1930-31 and talk about one of the early Broomcorn Festivals. I am not sure if this was the first one, but it seems likely. The Opportunity (Garden City, Kansas) · 01 Jan 1931, Thu · Page 14 shared the following,
WATCH CAMPO GROW! Opportunity: Below find pictured a float, which took first prize at the Broomcorn Festival” held at Springfield, Colorado, on October 11 and 12, 1930. The float represents a large market basket with fifty-nine farm products and one hundred two varieties. We also took first prize for the best bale of broomcorn which weighed 458 pounds. Campo, Colorado is located in the heart of the agriculture belt of Baca County. It is mid-way midway between Boise City, Oklahoma, and Springfield, Colorado and is on the prospective railroad from Amarillo, Texas to Las Animas, Colorado, which is being constructed by the Santa Fe Railway Company and has been practically completed between Boise City, Okla., and Amarillo, Texas. We feel assured that this road will be extended from Boise City, Oklahoma to Las Animas, Colo., in 1931. Campo, Colorado is also located on State Highway No. 59 which we understand has recently been made a Federal Highway. Campo is surrounded by a very fertile soil and offers wonderful opportunities to good substantial farmers and home seekers. Watch Us Grow! This entry was sponsored by the Campo Community Club. W. F. Gump, President.