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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Spokanites flock to 1917 Interstate Fair

 (Nathanael Massey / The Spokesman-Review)
(Nathanael Massey / The Spokesman-Review)

One of the oddest attractions at the 1917 Interstate Fair was something called “The Acre of War.”

It was an area that purported to show a World War I-style battlefield, complete with trenches and barbed wire.

Apparently, it was a little too realistic.

“An old lady has fallen into the trenches!” reported one caller to the police.

Then came more calls, including, “It’s dark down there and the people are running into the barbed wire.”

Police received so many calls that they dispatched a crew of workmen to fence in “The Acre of War.”

“The Acre of War” was not the only risky attraction. About 6,000 people jammed the grandstands and saw, among other things, “an artistic high dive” from a balloon.

Other attractions had a slapstick air.

“A calico mule was again brought on to the track and caused much merriment by refusing to permit a mob of small boys to mount him,” said the paper.

Another thrill came when a “girl” rider prepared to perform a “Roman standing race,” in which a rider stands with one foot on two side-by-side horses. Unfortunately, one of the horses decided to run back into the gates and “almost threw the girl to the ground.”

The fireworks display had a wartime theme, including “the sinking of a fireworks battleship.”

Police responded to a number of other calls, including reports of boys cutting the fence to get free admission. Police also received a number of fraud reports from the midway’s ring-toss booths, “which were not operated along legitimate lines.”

The weather was ideal, and the Interstate Fair set an opening-day attendance record of 15,495.

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