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Holden Proudly Shares Rich Fair History

As late summer or early fall approaches, Holden natives and residents anxiously await what is the most exciting and thrilling time of the year for our hometown; the Holden Street Fair. To be held August 24-26 this year, the fair has a long and rich history that has always celebrated our Midwestern culture, including livestock and agriculture, which were a big draw for fairgoers, especially in the early years.

This year the Holden Street Fair proudly celebrates its 140th anniversary as it continues to delight and enrich the lives of those who call Holden home.

Many who live here come from families who have lived in this area for many generations, and even now, residents still congregate during the fair to remember the fairs of years past, celebrate our history, catch up with old friends and classmates, and be reminded of the who came before us.

Our forefathers worked tirelessly to make our hometown one that values family, friends, our agricultural heritage, and fosters a fierce loyalty to those of us who are blessed enough to call this place our home.

In the Beginning
The “Fair” has had many different names over the years, including The Great Holden Fair, The Holden Fall Fiesta, The Holden Free Fall Fiesta, The Holden Street Fair, and simply, The Holden Fair.

The first fair opened Tuesday, October 23, 1883 and from reports written in the local newspaper, The Holden Enterprise, was a total washout. It rained heavily for five days and the directors were forced to postpone the event.

The first complete and successful fair opened September 30, 1884 and lasted four days. The Holden Military Band led the parade down 2nd Street the first morning to begin the celebration.

After the parade, the spectators went to the fairgrounds on the east edge of town (now 58 Highway and Clay Street). There were two entrances to the grounds and admission was charged. Funds raised help pay expenses of the fair. Adults were charged 25 cents and children, 15 cents.

It was said by those in attendance that some of the finest livestock in Johnson and neighboring counties were on hand for fairgoers to see.

The fairgrounds also boasted several nice displays. Local merchants showed off their…

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