The competition was fierce early last century as Columbus, Alliance, Marietta, Toledo, Fostoria, Marion, and Mansfield vied for the prize – host city for the 1914 Ohio State Corn Show. At the 1913 show in Lima, the winner was announced, and Mansfield was chosen.
Amazingly, both the 1913 and 1914 Corn Shows took place in the dead of winter – mid to late January. Still, thousands attended such events.The News Journal was effusive about Mansfield’s selection, suggesting that “[T]he exceptional advantages of Mansfield in the matter of transportation facilities” would draw more people to Richland County than Allen County.
When January 27, 1914 arrived, the paper’s prediction held true in that the Ohio State Corn Show was large and impressive. The Mansfield Shield noted that “visitors were surprised beyond their expectations” and that “exhibits now on display show that corn can be bred as well as livestock.”
Visitors viewed 615 exhibits, including a first generation stenotype machine which drew great attention. Also drawing note was a new invention for determining the moisture level in ears of corn. Prizes were awarded for corn of various colors and varieties.
The Corn Show must have been something to see. “Ears in red, white, and blue cover the tables, and flags made from 15,000 grains of corn in red, white, and blue adorn the west wall.” The entire Bellville High School student body attended, and banquet speakers at the Opera House and First Methodist Church downtown included Ohio Governor James M. Cox. John F. Cunningham, State Senator and editor of the Ohio Farmer, opened his remarks this way:
“Today we are gathered in this beautiful, progressive city of Mansfield, which is not only renowned for its business and manufacturing interests, but as the very center of a rich agricultural region. In fact, this city is fittingly named Mans—field.”
The show itself was housed on the second floor of the Herring garage located at Second and Walnut Street, while business meetings were held at the nearby First Baptist Church, located at the present site of Chase Tower. Some two thousand copies of “Ohio Apples” were given to the first two thousand women to attend.
The event included the annual meeting of the Ohio Corn Improvement Association.
After the Corn Show’s conclusion, the Lima Daily News noted that while the Mansfield show was apparently a success, a local man had given a speech immediately before that of Governor Cox, and that that his talk was “one of the big features of the program.”
Other stories in this series:
Sources: Mansfield Journal, Mansfield Shield, Lima Daily News, Wikipedia, Ohio History Connection; Photo: Google Maps