Timeline Tuesday: Brainerd and Furnas at the Fair

H. A. Brainerd. From Portrait and Biographical Album of Lancaster County, Nebraska (1888).



H. A. Brainerd. From Portrait and Biographical Album of Lancaster County, Nebraska (1888).


In 1926 journalist and Nebraska press historian Henry Allen Brainerd (1857-1940) recalled his attendance at the Nebraska State Fair in 1886 or 1887 when it was held at Lincoln. Brainerd, a native of Boston, had come to Nebraska in the early 1880s. Staging the fair was the responsibility of the Nebraska State Board of Agriculture, of which Robert W. Furnas was longtime secretary. Brainerd said: “One instance of that early day is vividly before me and I never enter the fair grounds, and I have attended the most of them since that time, but what it comes to my mind. I went to the fair and entered the office of the secretary, and after a cordial greeting which was always Mr. Furnas’ custom, he remarked-‘Wait a minute, Brainerd, I want to show you something.’ After he had finished with the party to whom he was talking he took his hat and told his clerk, Harry Shaffer, that he would be back in a few minutes. He led me out to the hog shed, and pointing to a hog said, ‘Aint that a beaute?’



 

The state fairgrounds, looking south from the Amphitheater, 1888. NSHS RG3356-3



The state fairgrounds, looking south from the Amphitheater, 1888. NSHS RG3356-3



 



“I gazed on the hog and answered ‘Yes!’ but compare that hog with the first prize winner of today [1926]. The hog referred to would not have weighed over 400 pounds, if he did that, [and] he was raw and rangy, but he took the first prize. And so with the horses, the cattle, the sheep, and all the exhibits of this wonderful fair that has just passed, where thousands of people attend, where automobiles bring the guests from all states in the union, where the natives come in trains loaded to the gun’ales; and by auto until there is not room on the grounds to receive them and arrangements are not far distant when greater facilities must be provided for the reception of the guests.   “Monday, it is said, was the banner day in all the history of the fair. 75,500 people and 12,500 automobiles passed the gates. . . . Of course there may have been more, for it would be impossible to get a complete list but this is enough to warrant the fact that Nebraska is going to be advertised the world over as having one of the best states and the state fair of any state in the Union.” In 2008 the Nebraska Legislature enacted LB1116 to transfer the Nebraska State Fair to Grand Island in 2010. The former fairgrounds will become a University of Nebraska research park.



 



 

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

You May Also Enjoy

The Destruction of Omaha’s Easter Sunday Tornado

The Destruction of Omaha’s Easter Sunday Tornado

Vanderzee Prayer Book

Vanderzee Prayer Book

Maj. Helen Sagl, a Nebraskan in World War II

Maj. Helen Sagl, a Nebraskan in World War II

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.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.
Nebraska Collections
History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.
Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.