In June, the club met and elected seven executive committee members to plan the fair, one from each ward of the Parish and Ward 1 of Caddo. The following were elected: Ward 1, J.W. Atkins; Ward 2, J.W. Jeter; Ward 3, N.W. Sentell; Ward 4, W.J. Johnston; Ward 5, J.T. Manry; Ward 6, G.S. Majors, and Ward 1 of Caddo, J.M. Sentell. The committee elected N.W. Sentell as chairman, Dr. C.H. Irion as secretary, and W.H. Scanland as treasurer.
That August, details of the plans for the fair began appearing in "The Bossier Banner," building the excitement. The fair would take place in Benton on Sept. 12th, 13th, and 14th. When announcing the dates, the writer admonished, "Every citizen in this parish should feel an interest in the fair and do all in his or her power to make it a success." The desire was to have an exhibit of something from every farm in the parish.
Preparation for the fair required a lot of construction. The exhibition hall was forty by eighty feet and two stories tall with a sheet iron roof that hung over several feet, providing shade and wire netted sides. There was a regulation half-mile track with grandstands to seat over 500 for viewing races and baseball games. There was an 'eating house" where the ladies of the Presbyterian faith served all kinds of delicacies, raising monies for the building of a Presbyterian church in Benton. Stalls and pens were built to house livestock.
The fair opened with an address from Mr. Rydon D. Webb when Governor Foster when circumstances prevented him from attending. The state agricultural association held a farmers' institute during the fair. A black brass band from Shreveport was in daily attendance. Each day a baseball game was played between the Ivan and Benton teams; Benton won each game. There were horse races, sprints, and other entertainments.
A beautiful oak grove near the fairgrounds was reserved for campgrounds for travelers who wished to camp out during the fair days. Local hotels offered reasonable rates. And special rates were arranged with the railroad; the Cotton Belt Route sold tickets at one and one-third fares, with a minimum of 50 cents.
After the fair, it was reported that "The attendance was greater than any one anticipated, even surpassing the most sanguine expectation of the managers. There were in attendance both Tuesday and Thursday fully 1000 people, and to say that there were 1500 present on Wednesday would be placing it at a low estimate." Wednesday was Veterans' Day, with special programs prepared on their behalf.
The first Bossier Parish Fair was a success in every way. To learn more about the history of the Bossier Parish Fair, visit the Bossier Parish Libraries History Center, 2206 Beckett Street, Bossier City. Can't come in, call 318-746-7717 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your request. Follow us @BPLHistoryCenter on Facebook, @bplhistorycenter on Tiktok, and check out our blog, http://bpl-hc.blogspot.com/.
By: Amy Robertson