Members of the Crescent City Historical Society hosted the group’s annual ice cream social on Sunday, Aug. 1 at the Crescent City Community Center. Members present who assisted were Yvonne Doggett, Cindy Pufahl and Carolyn Rapp.
Those attending the free program enjoyed a few varieties of homemade ice cream treats.
Doggett welcomed the guests and told a bit about the CCHS, a non-profit organization. Donations are always welcome as these help the group to purchase materials to help with the storage or display of items. Memberships are available for an indivdiual or family and includes a quarterly newsletter. The CCHS recently purchased banners which hang along Route 24 and they had several old photos enlarged on canvas, which are now hanging at the community center.
Doggett introduced speaker Sharon Perzee who served the Iroquois County 4H Club and Agricultural Fair 42 years. Perzee’s program was “History of the Iroquois County Fair.” She said the fair originally took place in Middleport 1854-58, with no fairs taking place during the Civil War. The fair took place in Onarga 1857-58, and then from 1863-1875, and later it took place in Milford from 1935-1960. From 1961 until the present, the fair has taken place in Crescent City. In 1970, the mortgage to purchase the fairgrounds was paid off.
She said 11 more acres have been acquired since then, which enabled the campground to be created, and the most recent purchase was the home of Loren Trimble and Ruth Harvick, which has become the fair office.
Fairs began with Christopher Columbus but they weren’t known as fairs at that time, they were known as “barter and trade” events. Iroquois County has been one of the fastest-growing fairs. Several memorabilia items were set up during the program, including a 50th anniversary book of the fair which has lots of historical information.
Perzee stressed the fair wouldn’t be successful if not for its volunteers and financial supporters. Volunteers don’t get compensated for their work, which was verified by Dave Perzee, who served on the fair board 34 years, and Sandy Wilken, who is currently on the fair board – neither has or is receiving any type of compensation. As volunteers get older or move away, new volunteers are always needed to keep up with the work needed to make the fair successful. Sharon Perzee noted it’s the off-season revenue and events which keep the fair going.
Over the years, the fair has had quite a number of well-known visitors, including governors and secretaries of agriculture.
Some of the history included the beef barn being constructed in 1961, and the grandstand originally being brought in from Milford. Six years ago the grandstand was completely redone with aluminum and that was a very costly project. Just to paint the front of the grandstand received an estimate of $54,000. Four pole barns were erected in 1972.
Perzee noted CCHS member Jean Lavoie Herron was the second Iroquois County Fair Queen, chosen in 1972. Herron lent her photo album for the program.
The CCHS will conduct its regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 7, with the CCHS being open to the public 1-3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 12. The display will be of the county fair. The CCHS is located in the upstairs of city hall, 400 Main Street. For those who cannot manage the stairs, many items can be brought down to the ground floor for viewing.
Any inquiries about the CCHS can be directed to any of the following: Pat Peterson, CCHS president, 815-383-2695; Yvonne Doggett, vice president, 815-683-2187; Cindy Pufahl, secretary, 815-683-2666; or members Jean Herron, 815-683-2650 and Carolyn Rapp, 815-683-2658.