Monday, February 25, 2013

Crawfordsville's Street Fair and Peace Jubilee

After the four-month-long Spanish-American war was ended, patriotism in the United States ran high. Many cities organized "Peace Jubilees" to honor the veterans and celebrate the end of the fighting. Philadelphia, New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Atlanta each hosted celebrations of peace. Although much smaller, Crawfordsville did not let the opportunity for festivities -- and perhaps a bit of profit -- pass it by. In September 1898, local businessmen organized the "Peace Jubilee and Street Fair," to be held October 18th -21st in downtown Crawfordsville.

Unfortunately, while the many merchants and entrepreneurs in town did their best to plan a worthy attraction for the public, raising a generous amount of funds and receiving an abundance of donated goods for premiums, the weather wasn't on their side. Rain delayed the fair's beginning by a day, and on Thursday the 20th, it rained again -- all day long. Attendance was much lower than hoped for, and as a result, free admission privileges for badge-holders were withdrawn so that the showmen and the fair association could try to cover their expenses. Despite the addition of Saturday as part of the fair's run, financial losses were large.

The local newspaper, The Sunday Star, ran a column detailing the outcome of the Street Fair, listing losses of $500 each for the "big animal shows" and reported the smaller shows were unable to pay their rent in full. The only day with a respectable attendance was Friday. The article concluded, "It is unfortunate that the weather was against us, but the decree of the elements of nature admits no appeal."

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