The online, pandemic-shuttered Ohio State Fair recently concluded. Here’s a trivia question for you – when was the last time that the Fair was held outside of Columbus, and where was it held?
You might be able to guess the answer to that question from the title of this post.
Mansfield was home to the Ohio State Fair in 1872 and 1873, one of only 10 cities statewide to ever hold that honor. It was held at the “grounds of the Richland County Agricultural Society,” which were located on Springmill Street just north from Harker Street. Update: This detail from Alfred T. Andreas’ 1873 Atlas of Richland County shows the location where the Fair took place.
The Mansfield experience for the Ohio State Fair was a bittersweet one. On one hand, receipts were up, as shared in the 1873 and 1874 Reports of the Ohio State Board of Agriculture:
“The State Fair at Mansfield, September, 1873, was in all respects a satisfactory one. The arrangements were as good as could be made, except for a permanent location. Magnificent shade trees, covering some twenty acres; water was supplied on all parts of the grounds by Holly water-works; a well-graded half mile track, with commodious stands for seating spectators; good, weather-proof halls, and suitable buildings for live-stock, made the grounds comfortable and attractive.” “The fairs of 1872 and 1873 were, financially, a greater success than any former fairs held in the State.”
The Mansfield Herald of September 4, 1873 noted that the third day of the Fair had good attendance, estimated at 20,000. The article also shared the hope that the evening rain that day would be the last of the five day event, and also remarked on one of the more active scenes of the Fair, “On the liveliest parts of the ground was in the vicinity of the washing machines, where it seemed that all the orators of the country had joined in the recommendation of washing machines.”
At the 1873 Fair, Mount Union College mounted an exhibition of stuffed birds and animals each, in the words of the Sandusky Register, “elaborately explained by a glib tongued professor.”
On the other hand, however, Fair proceeds were deposited at the First National Bank of Mansfield, which almost immediately suffered a partial financial collapse. A recovery of most of the $14,000 on deposit was anticipated, however.
The Ohio State Fair then moved to the Franklin Park area of Columbus until 1886, when the current location became its home.
This detail from Alfred T. Andreas’ 1873 Atlas of Richland County shows the location where the Fair was held:
Photo: Ohio State Fair circa 1863, Cleveland; Sources: Ohio State Board of Agriculture Reports, Mansfield Herald, Sandusky Register, Wikipedia, others