The History of the Spring Hill Fall Festival
This information was taken from "A history of Spring Hill 1857-1983".
This is a really cool read, so take a moment to read through it.
FAIRS TO FALL FESTIVALS
Spring Hill's fairs began in 1904 as a stock and farm exhibit on the street, according to Ed Blair's 1915 history of the area. The next year, the two acres of ground adjacent to the City on the south were leased by Mrs. Mathews. These two fairs were so successful that in 1906, the fair board leased fifteen acres, fenced it and erected a floral hall, put up stables and pens for stock and each year for at least 11 years, made more additions, and the fair was considered one of the finest in Eastern Kansas, and "without horse-racing, considered as one of the great drawing features of a fair", according to Mr. Blair.
Spring Hill merchants maintained a band, and it was an attraction at the fairs.
Loren Locke, a long-time druggist, remembers in 1925 or 1926 the fair was held in the Grange Hall. There were displays of vegetables, ear corn, wheat, dresses, hand work and baked goods, canned fruits and vegetables, and many other items. Later, the name was changed from the Grange Fair to the Spring Hill Community Fair. Officers were elected from the area and the fair was moved to the Rural High School grounds. Amusements consisted of ball games, football, horseshoe pitching, music contests, turtle races, and contests for children. In 1935, a platform for programs and dances was constructed. Some of the men had turtles entered in the race (Loren Locke and Ott Timmons, among them), but according to the school journalism section of the local papers, the high school students won the races with their turtles.
The fairs were discontinued during World War II and as Gardner was having the Johnson County Fair, the community fairs were not started again. In the fall, for several years, the community would have a carnival and displays of baked goods, canned fruits and vegetables, and handwork. (The last one we remember was about 1950.)
In 1954, the Fall Festival was started. The last weekend of August finds the town positively booming with activity - fishing derbies, horse pulls, rock concerts, PARADE, street dancing, and carnival-like booths along Main Street. In recent years, one of the highlights of the Saturday night activities has been the naming of the Citizen of the Year. Those who have been honored are Mr. and Mrs. Loren Locke, Mrs. Cecil Poisal, Mrs. Donna Gibson, Mr. Neal Janicke, and Mr. Melvin Murry.
On Sunday morning, there is a combined church service at the Park. For many years, families brought well-filled baskets of food for a combined basket dinner after the services. In recent years, this has been changed to a Bar-B-Q chicken dinner sponsored by the Ruritan Organization. Hundreds of chickens are cooked on the 40-foot long barbecue pit, and they are supplimented with Marlys Meek's potato salad and baked beans, which require, among other ingredients, 200 lbs of potatoes, 20 dozen eggs, and 16 gallons of beans.
In the afternoon, activities include visiting, bingo, horse shoe pitching, concerts, games, contests, and ice cream and cake. The homemade ice cream has been replaced with the "boughten" kind, but it is good, and all in all, it is a weekend to remember. (Sometimes we even have a politician or two or three who come to speak.)