Grande Prairie County Agricultural Society. — 1936-1956. — 1 cm of textual records.
The Grande Prairie County Agricultural Society was organized in 1911 as the Grande Prairie Agricultural Society. In 1913, the Dominion Government gave them the NE 25-71-6-W6 (“the old Fair Grounds”, currently 92nd to 96th Street and 108th to 116th Avenue in Grande Prairie), for use as a fairgrounds and experimental station.
The main activity of the GP Ag Society was organizing the annual fair, the main feature of which was extensive livestock and crop exhibits. For example, the 1917 prize list shows 79 classes for horses, 48 for beef, 36 for dairy, plus sheep and swine, and 36 classes for poultry. Seed grains and grasses were shown in peck and bushel quantities and there were many unusual vegetable classes such as red celery, eggplant, musk and water melons, salsify, and seven classes of “mangle wurtzels”. (Beth Sheehan, 1982). The fair also included an exciting sports program including horse racing, baseball, football, basketball, and foot races, and nightly dances.
During the Great Depression in the 1930s, the Provincial Government canceled the annual grants for the Fairs, and the July 1st Sports was taken over by the Grande Prairie Athletic Association. During World War II, the fairs stopped altogether. To solve the financial problems of the Society, 100 acres of their land (the south end) was sold to I V Macklin and the Mountview Subdivision was built there. In 1941, the Municipal District of Bear Lake (forerunner to the County of Grande Prairie) paid the remaining $850 mortgage debt on the land and took over ownership. For 10 years there was no annual fair.
In 1951, a reorganizational meeting was held, with the result that the Grande Prairie Agricultural Society was formed. The County signed a 49 year lease on the 60 remaining acres of the ‘fair ground’ quarter for $1.00 per year. Buildings were erected with grants, second-hand buildings, and volunteer labour; and money raised for prizes. B” Class Fair status was achieved in 1964 and “A” Class in 1980, but there was simply not enough room on the site. In 1981 the fair grounds were moved to Evergreen Park south of the City, where the County of Grande Prairie was willing to lease the Society a full quarter-section of land.
The records originated with the Isabel Campbell Reference files which were deposited in South Peace Regional Archives by the Grande Prairie Public Library in 2013. Original materials were separated from the reference files in 2016, at which time this fonds was created.
Scope and Content
The fonds consists of lists of directors for the Grande Prairie County Agricultural Society in 1955, 1959, 1962, and 1963; financial statements for 1956, 1960, and 1961; and a program for 1958. There is also material related to rules for judging horses and preparing grains, grasses, vegetables and flowers for exhibition, as well as some undated programs, one of which includes the “Official Fairgrounds Map” for the original site. Also included are Country Fair booklets from 1951 to 1987.
Title based on contents of the fonds.
Information for the Administrative History was taken from the Beth Sheehan fonds.
Related Records: Beth Sheehan fonds 002, series 02.03.03 County of Grande Prairie Agricultural Society; and Grande Prairie Museum fonds 001, Library item, The Frontier Exhibition Prize List, 1916. County Fair booklets were rehoused and arranged from Pamphlets to this fonds in 2019.
Accession No.: 2013.80