The Iowa County Fair Records

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.

Organizational History

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 Construction Bids 1981-2008
1 Deed 1975, 2008
1 Evaluation Meeting Notes 1984-1998
1 Fairman's Handbook 1936-1948
1 Federal Employer ID Number no date
1 Federal Tax Exemption on Admission 1952-1954
1 History of the Fair no date
1 Lease 1970
1 Letterhead & Logo Art no date
1 License Class B Retailers 2006
1 Loan Note 1941
1 Membership Lists 1990-1992
1 Mortgage 1938-1939
1 Plat Map of Fair no date
1 Proposal Sheep & Goat Barn 2002
1 Purchase Agreement 2006
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 Title Search 1998
1 Waiver for Truck Pull 1995
Series II: Minutes and Annual Reports
OV1 Minutes Book with Annual Reports 1895-1931
2 Minutes Book 1950-1995
3 Minutes 1994-1999
3 Minutes 2000-2005
3 Minutes 2006-2009
2 Agenda 1989-1991
2 Annual Reports 1926-1929
2 Annual Reports 1930-1939
2 Annual Reports 1943-1949
2 Annual Reports 1950-1993
2 Annual Reports 1997-2005
Series III: Financial Records
4 Audit 1951-1957
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 Bank Passbooks 1935-1960
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
5 Income Statements 1928-1965
5 Paid Receipts 1950-1954
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 Journal 1927-1936
6 Treasurer's Ledger: Horse Barn Fund 1950-1953
OV1 Treasurer's Ledger 1991-1994
6 Treasurer's Ledger Print-outs 1998, 2006
Series IV: Correspondence
7 Correspondence 1941-1953 (incomplete)
7 Correspondence 1966-1986 (incomplete)
7 Correspondence 1988-1997 (incomplete)
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)
8 Premium Books 1940-1945
8 Premium Books 1946-1949
9 Premium Books 1950-1959 (incomplete)
9 Premium Books 1960-1965
9 Premium Books 1966-1969
9 Premium Books 1970-1973
10 Premium Books 1974-1976
10 Premium Books 1977-1979 (incomplete)
10 Premium Books 1980-1983
10 Premium Books 1984-1986
11 Premium Books 1987-1989
11 Premium Books 1990-1992
11 Premium Books 1993-1995
11 Premium Books 1996-1999 (incomplete)
12 Premium Books 2000-2004
12 Premium Book – Junior Fair 2002
12 Premium Books 2005-2008
12 Premium Books 2009-2011
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 Exhibitor Lists 1986-1988
14 Dedication of Grandstand 1993
14 Planning Records 2002
14 Planning Records 2003
14 Planning Records 2004
14 Planning Records 2005
14 Planning Records 2006
14 Planning Records: 150th (2 files) 2004-2006
14 Planning Records 2007-2008
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
OV3 Broadsides 1916-1930
Series VII: Memorabilia
16 Memorabilia 1899-1939
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