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Also I'm a lawyer. With nearly general. Tonight. From Jefferson. And the Green County Fair. Greene County is rich bountiful land is nestled in the heartland of Iowa. It's green fields possessing countless years of history and in 1849 when Truman Davis arrived here with his wife six children two oxen one cow and rolled chickens he became the first settler in Green County. Five years later with the population having ballooned to 150 and the price of land costing a dollar twenty five an acre Greene County was formally organized with a new Jefferson Iowa becoming the county seat.
Knew Jefferson eventually became Jefferson Iowa and it was the pivotal point from which the county grew to railroad lines intersected at Jefferson and handled most of the counties co-production. But for our purposes Jefferson is mostly noted for these articles of incorporation of the Green County Agricultural Society in 1869. It was the birth of the Green County Fair. If you're expecting the Iowa State Fair. Forget it. No county fair presents itself in such a grandiose manner.
No county fair could afford to. Buy the uninitiated then attending the Greene County Fair necessarily means scaling down some of your expectations for everything here is done on a much smaller scale. This is not to suggest however that the Green County Fair coordinators are any less in Lousiana state than their counterparts in the Loire hundreds of people devote vast amounts of time and energy to ensure a successful county fair. And for the twelve thousand seven hundred sixteen inhabitants of Green County. Bigger is not necessarily better.
I think it does play an important part in people's lives especially the young people for aging author you know. And for the adults it provides entertainment and a chance to. Maybe take a break from the from the summer. I think the one thing that it does for the for Green County more so than anything else is to learn is to unify the country. I think it's a good. A very cooperative force. It's really a Green County Fair and the county as a whole I think supports the Green County Fair. I think if there's if there's one concern that that I would think the fair board would have another people who are interested in fair. It's what the future's going to be as as foreign population decreases in the county. And as as the general the average age gets older and as the town population increases somewhat I think the those who are interested in the fair are concerned that it
that it continue to broaden its its appeal to become not to become less and less a strictly rural thing and have an appeal to a wider number of people. Rick Moraine is Editor Publisher and owner of the Jefferson weekly newspaper The Bee and herald the paper is the oldest continuous business in the county dating back to 1871 moraines ancestry is also deeply rooted in Greene County and one senses his underlying appreciation for the historical and traditional values of the fair. We give more coverage to the county fair. Prior to the event. When we do anything else. That goes on in the car. Because it probably is the is the biggest single event that affects more people. In the. County. Than anything else. People from. Every part of the county. You know all relates to the serious somewhere else.
Put him in the carrier. May need another be there I don't know how but. This is the Charles Curtis farm located one mile west of sure Dan in the northwest section of Greene County. Like so many times today it's a family operation. But it's one that specializes in purebred hogs and does it specialize. Charles Curtis is one of the premier breeders in the swine industry. In fact last year his herd ranked fifth largest nationally. Charles and Lois Curtis have won Boran Gill championships from all over the country. A glance at the family's trophy case will attest to their abilities. And several more glances around the household suggest that the Curtis commitment to the
swine business is more than just a profession. It's a way of life. But it's a profession and a way of life. That's the only thing we do. And. We certainly enjoy it we have many many friends around the country and they're all involved in the same thing we are. That one comment that I guess there again we would never know in any other way and why I would raise a repairman hogs. If you're saying to yourself that they hardly seem the typical farm family perhaps not but define typical in today's agriculture specialisation being what it is. I don't consider myself typical of today's farmer because like I specialize in the hog business but I think I'm rather typical from a farmer standpoint in that. I think I'm rather independent no words I'm on my own so to speak I make my own decisions. If
I put out a little extra effort or do a little better job I get the feeling that I get paid a little better for that and rather than just punching a clock and if I do good or don't do good and punch out the drama pay any out or on the farm. The typical farmer he has to kind of buckle down do the job see the good stuff and if you don't get done at cost same one way or the other is financially or maybe of living in peace of mind or something like that so. So from that standpoint I'm typical for the Curtis's the Green County Fair takes on a special significance each year particularly for their children. Then it's their turn through their 4-H programs can't courtesied 16 and Joe Curtis aged 13 and the chance to show their livestock and compete with their friends. They get some friendly needling and ribbing from their friends you know and say Well do you always got good pager you always do good and you
can just kind of come back with an answer that well we don't win all the time we don't always have the best pigs and that's a problem nobody always has a best case and we're just in there trying to do a good job and we think that anybody can do a good job. Every guy does. Aside from some healthy competition the 4H program also represents a social time for Canton jail. An opportunity to see many of their friends from across the county a chance to be just kids.
With. A word about for each head and heart it is the very backbone of the county fair. A few critics suggest there might be too much emphasis on 4-H at the expense of other fair attractions but almost everyone would readily admit. Take away a strong 4 8 program and the county fair would wither and die. There is other livestock competition at the Green County Fair outside of the Jr. program. Green County still offers open class competition long since abandoned by many county fairs. Open Class simply means anyone can enter. You needn't be a resident of Green County rival for that matter. This year open class horse steer and barrel
shows are scheduled. This is. The hub of the fare is for H. I think you picked an excellent pattern for your capabilities. I think the hardest thing was putting that on line and you got your gathers in there real well and you have said in sleaze it wasn't as hard as putting up. Yeah the Raglan pipes running. Good. And its ribbon and put it in the consideration for St.. Their kids who are in fourth grade up through 12th grade can join together and it's not an organization that we try to develop in areas of citizenship. Leadership responsibility. It's a program that kids can do something and have fun while they're learning. And it's not as structured as it used to be and saying girls had a show on the home economics and boys thought it's more of an openness where the kids can participate in things if they're interested in is probably the biggest change that we're doing. And also it's a kind of fair use you know strictly for real kids and we're dropping the rural urban
type things and we're making for each open for anybody interested in in the whole program. So it's not just the farm fair the way it used to be. Oh I really don't think the competitors are changed in the home business and so I was in for a I think they have the same goals aspirations are an important part of the Jr. show as the learning activity on the part of the junior members. The care of the litter. The opportunity to learn the biology and have a better meaning have a better understanding of life involved in. Inferring the litter taking care of the young pig doing the necessary things in the way of nutrition and her health to protect that animal against disease. And to learn how an animal grow. And then the follow this through and get involved in the economics of the fuel how much money did I make how much feed did it cost me. How could I do a better job and future years in the show here. In my opinion just represents the final
culmination of this whole series of events. It. Teaches them to. Do some things on their own I'm sure do some thinking on their own to get out. In front of people not necessarily to put on a show but just to get out in and be able to handle themselves in public and. To work with a project just watch it grow and develop the. Same way as they're growing and developing in their own life and it's just a good experience for me and a lot of different ways especially in my getting into be on their own and think for themselves. They learn how to compete and take the good with the bad. There are many times I realize what it means to them until they get older. But what value there really was there for you to experience.
Maybe when they left home they thought they had something really great and they are going to put it up against other people saying another lesson and they have to learn how to take the bad side as well as the good side. I heard it a little bit uneasy in that I want to do good. But then if I step back just a minute and think and I think what they're really doing pretty good. Fact they're doing real good I'm sure they're doing a lot better than I could ever have done at my age. And so I try to relax and say oh no this is theirs it's their project they're going to learn and sometimes we were going a lot by some mistakes when they. For the curious kids if you're measuring success in terms of ribbons in the first place their tally looks like this with a close you cookie to be ready. You hogs one purple two blues and it was your champion in the pan of three hogs last finishing second to you guessed it can't win addition to his purple ribbon in that class. Harvest in two more blue ribbons certainly successful
perhaps on a new tangible basis. The pair for them has been everything they expected. I don't get it. Right right you want to go right ahead. We get our Farias in good sound. The words were assault. But the grandstand is where we have to. Watch our financial situation. It's an old I'd say.
I'm saying for a fire. If you can hold your grandstand. Together. You're fail be a success. But you can't go out and lose three or four thousand of the county fairgrounds that and expect to have. Financially paying players. He is Jack Harper secretary of the Green County Fair and court magistrate for the county property's been secretary for 16 out of the past 18 years. Yes. Yes we think so. If it doesn't rain anymore we're going to have. A fair time he operates out of this unique shelter on the fairgrounds running virtually a one man show through a bombardment of phone calls through the years he has seen the scope of the county fair changed particularly at the grandstand. The programs are higher. I can remember I believe the first country-Western show that we cost a six hundred fifty dollars. Show that were hiring this year cost more than five times that. So this is the way of the
grandstand and this is where. We need to. Really watch ourselves and not get overextended and grandstand program. This year's grandstand Act which propert refers is Jeannie C. Riley of Harper Valley PTA fame. The headline act is perhaps a financial gamble by the fair board in an effort to attract more fair goers. There may be a time when we will have to re-evaluate. Our affair and. With the declining real population we may have to. Diminish the size of our fire. Because of the financial. Burden. We have with. Cooperate. We may have to change to A. A little different program when they have to think of come up with some ideas of having local people be involved in it and our programs of the young people or older people or something of that kind. If if I was just thank you one thing I would say that it occurs to me that the that.
The entertainment is just simply price itself out of the market for a smaller county fair. Leon Franz is one of the elder statesmen of the green county fair board he was first elected in one thousand forty seven. The board is comprised of 13 members elected from around the county. They serve three year terms or no salaries and are charged with overseeing the various activities in the thin air. He too has lived through many of the fair's ups and downs. When I first went on the board. That spend some 30 some years ago. It was very noticeable that we had a horse race. But for some reason this county had never in all these years that I had anything to do with it ever was able to attract any of any of the large crowds of horse racing. As I look back now that was a turning point. How this fair when we started to grow. When we change our program. Not that you're getting it that I. Got. Trying
to be overcritical of horse racing but here was a situation that's going to scotch into the fair aboard our twelve hundred dollars to have a race to have a sanctioned by the by the American Trucking Association. And maybe we'd have $200 a gate at there at the grandstand was there it's very easy to understand why that type of thing wasn't wasn't profitable. When I first got into this garden and started to come into fair here. They had races horse races they had everything and people come in your with mules and horses and callus in the farmers would come in here and have a big mood and we used to have five and six acres of garden. I live south of Scranton if that time we had everything grew it would grow here in the fall but you see that time when for which time you go in the corn field and pick seed corn rather feel we had oysters. Balkans everything that road we hit we bring it in your you know formers it put a booth that you know it is
altogether different and it costs you 25 cents to get in the gate at that time. And they commune here and will list places be simple you could walk. They really had a fare back named days of course when you took the horse racing away. You took a lot of the fairway you know. What. For so many of the old timers the fair is just a memory a fleeting glimpse of what used to be. But for one individual it's a chance to reflect on his glory days. I want to order that's there. Ever since their guy
was running his show over there now the legs show it's no one taught me what is. It's where they meet all comers. And. I decided I Glenn see what I can throw this guy he was offering $10 for 10 minutes. So I am 20 on the first France has ever had professionally horse farming about 400 acres at a time. When I went broke I didn't do enough harm but I went broke. Took me about 10 years to come out of that and I started out meeting all comers all over the state of Iowa and primarily Tom I ran sort of them that is. So I offered to I run a mat in the Des Moines Register that I would run and anybody $110 Gade Christie's hand betting $100 I can beat him. And I never got booed.
You're looking at Earl better known in earlier days as the Scranton coal miner years 56 years ago in one thousand twenty two. He started his illustrious career on the canvas at the Greene County Fair. Wrestling was right thing and real rationing in most of terms sometimes if you somebody heard you maybe for put on a combat sort of hair or something and give you $100 to wrestle. Maybe that's a pro along with a little bit of you could bid to guy in 40 seconds. You know but maybe it would have to prolong make it a little interesting pricing. But as far as a matter of being state would say that I never had a stake. That's why he traveled the countryside always as he says wrestling rough and always the villain. But whenever he returned to the Greene County Fair he was the local hero.
He's alive. There always had a good scare there. You know always done everything I could to help him out because her. Yeah. Sky. Blue sky. Last. Song. Now. I never saw the song so bright. Saw her. Fly. Over.
Assignment Iowa Classics
Episode Number
Greene County Fair
Producing Organization
Iowa Public Television
Contributing Organization
Iowa Public Television (Johnston, Iowa)
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This episode profiles the Greene County Fair in Greene County, Iowa, including its history and the people who contribute to its production each year. Features include a family-owned pig farm in Greene County and a segment on various fair organizers, such as Jack Haupert, Court Magistrate for Greene County and Secretary of the fair.
Assignment Iowa is a magazine featuring segments on a different aspect of Iowa culture and history each episode.
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Host: Mary Jane Odell
Producing Organization: Iowa Public Television
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Iowa Public Television
Identifier: 24F37 (Old Tape Number)
Format: U-matic
Generation: Master
Duration: 00:27:33
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Chicago: “Assignment Iowa Classics; 407; Greene County Fair,” 1978-10-12, Iowa Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 7, 2020,
MLA: “Assignment Iowa Classics; 407; Greene County Fair.” 1978-10-12. Iowa Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 7, 2020. <>.
APA: Assignment Iowa Classics; 407; Greene County Fair. Boston, MA: Iowa Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from