Hickman Gets the Fair

Lancaster County's agricultural exhibit at the Nebraska State Fair in the 1880s. NSHS RG3356-2-33

Lancaster County's agricultural exhibit at the Nebraska State Fair in the 1880s. NSHS RG3356-2-33

August and September are traditional months for county fairs in Nebraska, frequently (but not always)  held in a county seat town. In 1892 the village of Hickman made a determined bid to wrest the Lancaster County Fair from Lincoln. “For years it [the fair] had been run by a few people living in and around Lincoln,” said E. F. Fassett, editor of the Hickman Enterprise on February 6, 1892, “and our people took into their heads that they wanted a finger in the pie.”

Fassett next described Hickman’s strategy: “Last Saturday, January 30, was the time prescribed by law for the holding of the annual meeting of the Lancaster County Agricultural Society [sponsor of the county fair], at which time the election of officers and the selection of a board of directors would take place. Early in the morning it was given out on the streets that a large number from Hickman would attend the meeting and become members, . . . and to that end a special train was secured and nearly a hundred boarded it and left at 12:30 for Lincoln. On arriving there, all proceeded at once to the court house and were just in time to be present when the president [J. D. Woods] rapped for order.”

All who wished to become new members were then enrolled and received voting privileges. Learn the result of Hickman’s surprise move and read about other early Nebraska fairs in Cass County and Chase County in Timeline columns on the Nebraska State Historical Society website. — Patricia C. Gaster, Assistant Editor for Research and Publications

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