Remember When …

The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park for the Grand International Exhibit of 1861. Photo courtesy of the Burton Area Historical Society

The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park for the Grand International Exhibit of 1861. Photo courtesy of the Burton Area Historical Society

Are we all missing our gatherings the summer from family reunions to outside events? Genesee County Fair started in 1850, the year after the first Michigan State Fair was in 1849. There is a State fair in most all states across America, each year. Do you go to the Michigan state fair? Michigan’s state fair was held in Novi every year, with many people coming from all over the state to share the harvest, 4-H, business and the entertainment.

The first world fair or “International Exhibition” was in London 1851, at the Crystal Palace (built for the event) in Hyde Park for all to see, celebrating “the works of industry of all nations”. Since the 1790’s there has been fairs, expos, exhibitions or celebrations in countries all over the world to announce things of excitement that happened but until 1851 they did not combine it together as an all-world event. America had its first world fair in New York in 1853, there were many fairs or exhibitions all around the world and still are showing growth in new business.



City parks (like Flint Park or Lakeside Park) were all over in Genesee County, some people lived in the city or didn’t even have a car, so they had smaller expos or carnivals in the parks like, Thread River my father in-law told me he went in the 1930-1950s. I remember going to the ones on a vacant corner or even this the parking lots in the 1970s of department stores. Did you ever go to one?

For 171 years our countywide event was always the Genesee County Fair, this is as I remember it. Parking on the grass in the hot of the summer on Mt Morris Road, with many events going on at the same time; 4-H barns with animals, children made exhibits, judging area events, businesses tents, amusement rides, food vendors of all kinds and even a beer tent.

Remember what started Michigan? Farming. So, let’s check out and how 4-H got started in 1902 as an agricultural group to help kids learn about farming. This wonderful group has grown into much more and still going today to help youth all over America. Now 4-H is a group that thinks outside the box, science, life skills, sewing, and crafts, so you can get even involved in the public classrooms in some schools to teach on agriculture.

This has grown into more with S.T.E.M. in schools so children and learn that everything works around how we live with our environment. So even if the Fair is not going on this year because of the virus there is a way to get involved by checking out the S.T.E.M. projects online or with your class, I really loved teaching this, it even shows you ways to recycle. When you go to the fair next year, look for your neighbors or find old friends and you can enjoy new foods, and make some memories.

Remember When is a weekly column in the Burton View featuring historical stories about the community from the Burton Area Historical Society. If you have some Burton history to share, email History.