Excitement at the 1912 fair

Newspaper articles promoting the race said the fair association was hoping for five competitors.

JSSP Keith Norman Column Sig
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The Jamestown Fair Association was looking for a few good women for a featured horse race at the July 1912 edition of the Stutsman County Fair.

Along with the normal livestock and grain entries from local farmers, the fair featured a full slate of horse races including one special for the ladies.

The race was a relay and limited to women who resided in Stutsman County and were over the age of 16. Each woman needed four horses and two helpers to compete.

The race involved riding a half mile and then changing their saddle to the next horse and riding another half mile. The race covered about 2 miles with the same woman riding four different horses.

The exchange, dismounting the first horse, saddling the next and taking off, took place in front of the grandstands, and this is where the two assistants were allowed to help.


Newspaper articles promoting the race said the fair association was hoping for five competitors. They offered a $20 prize for the winner.

Adjusted for inflation that would be nearly $600 today.

Results indicate there were only two competitors but the races were close with a Sheridan, no first name given, taking home the cash.

Along with the races, the 1912 Stutsman County Fair had a lot of specialty shows including two dogs that would climb up a ladder to a height of 50 feet and, at the sound of a gunshot, dive into a net.

That is something you don’t see every day.

Other carnival acts included a “Mexican bullfight,” an “untamed and outlawed man-eating lion” and the diving girl who performed in “one-piece suits and discard the hindering skirt.”

The reporter of The Jamestown Alert evidently was concerned about the health of the diving girl because he noted the tank had warm water.


Over the years, the Stutsman County Fair has a long tradition of entertaining people. I hope everyone got out and had a chance to enjoy the 2022 edition.

Maybe it even topped the show from 110 years ago with the dog diving into a net and women riding relay horse races.

Author Keith Norman can be reached at www.KeithNormanBooks

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