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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

Spokane’s Interstate Fair was facing an existential crisis. It needed to raise $37,000 to pay its debts or face the loss of its fairgrounds and equipment.

The fair was badly in debt after cold, damp weather kept the crowds away. What was usually a sunny and boisterous fairgrounds had turned into a soggy mud pit. The few fairgoers who braved the weather used umbrellas and boots to slog their way from one hot coffee stand to another.

The fair drew only 49,000 admissions. Usually, it drew over 100,000.

“We can pay the debts if we sacrifice the grounds and buildings, but we would lose $100,000 in improvements which would be of no value except for fair purposes,” said the president of the fair association. “And if Spokane should find that it wanted a fair badly enough to start over again, it would have to buy new grounds elsewhere and make all the improvements.”

A mass meeting was called for all Spokane people who wanted to take action to save the Interstate Fair.

An editorial in The Spokesman-Review called on Spokane businessmen to do whatever it took to place the fair on solid financial footing.

“Retreat and abandonment” of the fair was unthinkable, said the editorial.

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1897: The New York Sun ran its famous editorial, written anonymously by Francis P. Church, which declared, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”


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