Name of the Collection
The Iowa County (SW Wisconsin) Fair Records, 1857-2011
Accession #1982.29, #1988.01, #2017.01
8.06 cubic feet
Provenance of the Collection
The contents were created by the Board of Directors (sometimes called Supervisors) of the Iowa County Fair, aka Southwestern Wisconsin Fair. The collection was donated by Harry Ivey (Programs, 1960-1982) in 1982, by Don Hawkins (Minutes Book, 1895-1950) in 1988 and by Douglas Rider, current board chair, in 2017.
The Iowa County Fair conducts livestock judging, displays and contests for domestic arts, horse racing, and public entertainment on the county fair grounds in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. The Fair is held annually on Labor Day weekend. In 1956 and 2006, the Fair celebrated its 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively.
An agricultural fair was held in Dodgeville, Wisconsin in 1851 by the Iowa County Agricultural Society. This was not followed until 1856 when a second fair was held in Dodgeville. This date is used by the current Iowa County Fair Society as the inception date from which all anniversaries are calculated.
Beginning in 1858, the City of Mineral Point, also in Iowa County, began holding an agricultural fair at approximately the same time as the Dodgeville Fair. The Mineral Point Fair was conducted by the Industrial Arts Union (IAU.) The IAU changed its name to the Southwestern Wisconsin Industrial Association (SWIA) in 1870. The SWIA was a private organization that issued shares of stock for capital. The two fairs continued to be held until 1907 when Dodgeville held its last fair. The Mineral Point Fair was suspended for one year in 1861 in tribute to the men fighting in the Civil War.
In 1875, the Southwestern Wisconsin Industrial Association purchased 30 acres on the north-western edge of Mineral Point. This location remains in use today.
In 1895 the SWIA changed its name again to the Southwestern Wisconsin Fair Association (SWFA.) Ninety four years later the shareholders agreed to make the organization a not-for-profit corporation and changed the name to the Iowa County Fair Society, Incorporated (ICFS.) A board of directors – sometimes called supervisors – was elected and by-laws were drawn up. The new ICFS redeemed all stock issued prior to 1888. The fiscal year was set from October 1 to September 30.
The by-laws described the following purpose of the Iowa County Fair Society:
[to] conduct such exhibitions, fairs and events consistent with the education interests and needs
of the people in Iowa County and members of this corporation in promoting agriculture,
livestock, manufacturing, horticulture, agronomic and vegetable crops, conservation, family
living, food preservation, cultural arts, clothing, youth development, mechanics, protection of the environment, education and whatever can be done to develop the resources and promote prosperity of Iowa County, and to conduct any other non-profit activities authorized by law.
The by-laws provided for memberships available to anyone paying the prescribed dues. The membership elected the Board of Directors at the annual meeting, which was to be held soon after the fall fair had closed. The by-laws stipulated there would be 11 board members “at large” along with one Agricultural Extension 4-H Youth Leader representative, one member of the Iowa County Board of Supervisors and one Agricultural Extension agent.
Scope and Content Notes
The records within this collection include the Iowa County Fair Society, Inc, and the Southwestern Wisconsin Fair Association. The records are arranged into 7 record series as follows:
- Series I: Administrative Files
- Series II: Minutes & Annual Reports
- Series III: Financial Records
- Series IV: Correspondence
- Series V: Premium Books & Program Files
- Series VI: Public Relations & Marketing
- Series VII: Memorabilia & Ephemera
A large collection of photographs has been moved and cataloged within the Mineral Point Library Archives Photograph Collection. Please contact the Curator for access.
Architectural drawings from this collection have been placed in the Mineral Point Library Archives Architectural & Engineering Drawings Collection. Please contact the Curator for access.
Series I contains a wide array of administrative documents. The collection arrived at the Archives without an original order so this Series holds all of the records deemed appropriate to the daily administration of the county fair. It includes organizational documents such as the 1985 Articles of Incorporation, by-laws and legal documents such as a lease, deeds and court documents. The other records cover licenses necessary to sell alcohol and contracts with various vendors and entertainers. Over the years the Fair board raised money for and oversaw various improvements to the grounds and buildings. Contracts pertaining to these improvements can be found here.
Series II includes minutes of the Board of Directors. The early years are handwritten in two ledgers. Later the minutes were typewritten. Most recent minutes are computer printouts. The years before 1895 are missing as are the minutes from 1932 through 1949. The early Minutes book included annual reports and other documents. These are pasted into the book and could not be removed. Therefore the Series follows this order and later Annual Reports are filed here. The Annual Reports include information on the Fair's revenues and expenses. There are also reports on the cash paid as “Premiums” to winners in livestock competitions. The Fair received state aid to help defray the cost of these premiums. Many of the minutes include Treasurer's reports to the Board.
Series III contains financial files found among the records that were not included with the Minutes in Series II (in the Treasurer's reports and the Annual Reports.) These include Treasurer's ledgers, paid receipts, income statements, lists of monies paid for livestock and other financial documents. The records in this series are incomplete. There is, however, a comprehensive set of receipt books detailing the names and certificate numbers of capital stock purchases in the Southwestern Wisconsin Fair Association.
There are 4 files of correspondence in chronological order in Series IV. Currently, these files are very sparse. More correspondence may be uncovered from records not yet transferred to the Archives.
Series V is an incomplete set of program booklets known as “Premium Books.” Each file folder lists the missing years on the front of the folder. These books detailed the livestock and other farm related competitions that were held during a fair and how much cash a class winner could expect. In the last two decades the booklets have become 8.5” x 11.”
Also in Series V are programming files assembled by board members that only cover the most recent years. The 150th Anniversary of the Fair is well represented.
Public Relations and Marketing files comprise Series VI in the form of press clippings and broadsides (later known as posters.) The press clippings are in chronological order and have been photocopied to preserve the information. The early broadsides are in very delicate condition. During the 150th Anniversary celebration a major effort was made to find and photocopy old newspaper articles. These are included in this Series.
A collection of memorabilia such as prize ribbons, samples of tickets, a lapel button, a modern tee shirt and billed cap are housed in Series VII.
Box Inventory of the Collection
|Box #||Contents of Folders||Date Span|
|Series I. Administrative Files|
|1||Affidavit re: Note Repayment||1935|
|1||Agreement to Purchase Equipment||1959|
|1||Articles of Incorporation/By-laws||1895-2010|
|1||Board of Director Committees||1990|
|1||Contract with Contractor||1975|
|1||Contracts with Entertainment||1943|
|1||Contracts with Vendors||1990-1992|
|1||Evaluation Meeting Notes||1984-1998|
|1||Federal Employer ID Number||no date|
|1||Federal Tax Exemption on Admission||1952-1954|
|1||History of the Fair||no date|
|1||Letterhead & Logo Art||no date|
|1||License Class B Retailers||2006|
|1||Plat Map of Fair||no date|
|1||Proposal Sheep & Goat Barn||2002|
|1||Registered Agent Change Documents||1991|
|1||Report on Grandstand Condition||1975|
|1||Report Youth Fair Board Committee||2010|
|1||Summons Mill v SWWF, et al||1976|
|1||Tax Stamp on Liquor Sales||1936-1944|
|1||Waiver for Truck Pull||1995|
|Series II: Minutes and Annual Reports|
|OV1||Minutes Book with Annual Reports||1895-1931|
|Series III: Financial Records|
|4||Capital Stock Share Increase||1944|
|4||Capital Stock Share Receipt Book||1896-1941|
|4||Capital Stock Share Receipt Book||1900|
|4||Capital Stock Share Receipt Book||1909-1942|
|4||Capital Stock Share Receipt Book||1914-1955|
|4||Capital Stock Shareholder Register (Alpha)||1896-1953|
|5||Capital Stock Transfers||1909-1980|
|5||Balance Sheets: Horse Races||1985-1990|
|5||Bequest: Rolli, Frederick||1988|
|5||Canceled Checks: Horse Barn Fund||1950-1954|
|5||Cash Journal||1952, 1963|
|5||Cash Journal: Concessions||1936|
|5||Cash Receipt Books||1941-1994|
|5||Federal Tax on Admission||1941-1952|
|6||Payroll Tax Report||1951-1954|
|6||Pledge List: Horse Barn Fund||1950|
|6||Receipts for Premiums Paid (1)||1933|
|6||Receipts for Premiums Paid (2)||1933|
|6||Record Book: Horse Racing||1949|
|6||Sales List: Meat Animals||1970-1992|
|6||Treasurer's Ledger: Horse Barn Fund||1950-1953|
|6||Treasurer's Ledger Print-outs||1998, 2006|
|Series IV: Correspondence|
|7||Correspondence||2005-2009, no date|
|Series V: Premium Books & Program Files|
|8||Premium Books||1858-1879 (incomplete)|
|8||Premium Books||1886-1897 (incomplete)|
|8||Premium Books||1904-1909 (incomplete)|
|8||Premium Books||1929-1939 (incomplete)|
|9||Premium Books||1950-1959 (incomplete)|
|10||Premium Books||1977-1979 (incomplete)|
|11||Premium Books||1996-1999 (incomplete)|
|12||Premium Book – Junior Fair||2002|
|13||Programs – Horse Racing||1947-1965|
|13||Programs – Horse Racing||1980-1989|
|13||Programs – Horse Racing||1990-1999 (incomplete)|
|13||Programs – Horse Racing||2000-2001|
|14||Banquet Program: 4-H Leaders||1950-1954|
|14||Certificates of Achievement||1948-1951|
|14||Dedication of Grandstand||1993|
|14||Planning Records: 150th (2 files)||2004-2006|
|Series VI: Public Relations & Marketing|
|15||Press Clippings||1856-1917 (incomplete)|
|15||Press Clippings||1927-1954 (incomplete)|
|15||Press Clippings||1962-2011 (incomplete)|
|OV2||Posters & Broadsides||1918-2009|
|Series VII: Memorabilia|
|16||Ribbons||1916-2006, no date|
|OV4||Memorabilia & Ribbons||no date|
Arranged by Karen Betz-Gosse, Cindy Taylor, & Shan Thomas, 2016
Finding Guide Written by Shan Thomas, 2018