The Free Street Fair

Organizers of the Hastings Free Street Fair held late in the summer of 1899 no doubt had

their tongues planted firmly in their cheeks when they printed up this “Complimentary

Coupon Ticket,” now in the collections of the Nebraska State Historical Society.

“The holder of this ticket,” the coupon reads, “is hereby granted free admission to the fair

grounds during the entire week, also free bathing in the city park, bathing and camping

privileges with water and shade, free. Bring this ticket with you to the fair and it will secure

you these privileges on presentation to the committee on entertainment. Bring this with you

every day. It may enable your friends to identify you after the fair. Sign your name here.

“Coupon No. 1. (Not good if used.) Entitles the holder to admission to the balloon

ascensions, street theater and firemen’s tournament free. Present this ticket at the gate and

you will be given a reserved seat for yourself and lady. Save coupon as performances change

daily. If desired holder may be admitted to fireworks and civic parade upon giving bond for

good behavior. Pickpockets and dudes are excluded from the grounds.”

Beer-drinkers were the butt of the next coupon’s humor: “Coupon No. 2, entitles the holder

to a free ride on the pleasure schooners Fremont and Fred Krug, which leave the harbor

mouth at all hours of the day and night. Dancing and chin music on board. Free punch on

application. Take any schooner in sight, all land at city cooler. This ticket will not be

accepted for bail if torn or ripped up the back. Conductor will direct you to schooners.”

The final coupon “entitles the holder to admission to the ‘hooche cooche’ when accompanied

by chaperon with the required coin. Keep away from the cows; they like greens. Keep away

from the swine exhibit, unless properly entered, you may confuse the judges. Don’t gawk–

people will think you are from Lincoln. If you don’t see what you want address all kicks to

Fred Renner, Secretary. P.S. Lady who left false teeth in water cooler last year can have them

returned on application to above address.”

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About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
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