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A Step Back in Time - 1899

Submitted by Jari Lynn Oncken - May 21, 2008

Over the years Minonk has held many circuses, parades, carnivals, Fourth of July celebrations and street fairs. When we read of those long ago events we realize that the citizens of Minonk's past were just as energetic and fun-loving as we are today.

One article published in a Minonk paper on September 14, 1899, tells of an exciting celebration in Minonk. Carpenters and mechanics were busy night and day building platforms and booths and setting up tents all along the business streets to make ready for the "greatest ever" street fair. Merchants and businessmen alike had elaborate booths in front of their establishments. Different committees spent many hours planning and advertising this amazing event. Hotels and boarding houses were getting ready for the incoming crowds and letters were being received daily asking for reservations.

Citizens worked very hard to beautify Minonk and obtain entertainment. All felt that it would be a huge succes and that everyone would go home greatly impressed.

They were planning a four-day fair of continual attractions including Hanson, the "King of Balloonists", who woud have nightly balloon ascensions. During the afternoons and evenings, Spencer's full military band of Peoria was to give concerts.

Meehan's troupe of performing dogs would entertain both young and old and the acrobats, called the Trolley Car Trio, would give daily performances. There also would be tightrope walking and revolving ladder work.

Old soldiers of the Civil War were holding their Big Bend Reunion in conjunction with the street fair that year. The expected large crowd of comrades would be camping in the city park. Each day there were to be addresses and vocal and instrumental music.

There promised to be no lull in the street fair festivities much to the delight of all who would attend.

How great it would be to be able to step back in time to 1899 and experience this celebration.

The clothes of that day, means of transportation and the hard work of daily life would be quite different. One can imagine the excitement that street fair must have generated.

Merchants built booths for the fair on Main Street.