King's Fair, Minneapolis, Minnesota (1877-1882)

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King's Fair

Balloon launch, King's Fair ca 1881
Filling balloon, King's Fair ca 1881
Location of Site: South Minneapolis
Neighborhood/s: Seward, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Hennepin County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year Established: 1877
Year Ended: 1882
Founded by: Colonel William S. King
Historic Function: Fairgrounds
Current Function: Park

Seward Minneapolis Hennepin County

King's Fair, Minneapolis, Minnesota (1877-1882)
(44.959212° N, 93.231396° WLatitude: 44°57′33.163″N
Longitude: 93°13′53.026″W
The original King's Fair operated from 1877 to 1882 on a large fairgrounds bounded on the east and west by 30th and 24th Avenues South, and on the north and south by Franklin Avenue and East 24th Street. Beginning in 1979, King's Fair has been remembered and celebrated bi-annually at Matthews Park with the help of volunteers from the community.


Site History

In 1863 the Hennepin County Agricultural Society purchased this land as a home for the Minnesota State Fair. However, there were not sufficient funds to develop the site. In 1865 four businessmen decided to contribute to the promotion of Minneapolis by sponsoring the first fair. George A Brackett, Dorilus Morrison, William S. King and J.M Eustis provided $13,000 to build a fence, a racetrack and several other buildings. It was a great success, and reportedly drew a crowd of 12,000 to 15,000 people. Nevertheless, the fairgrounds were not used again until 1877.[1]

In 1877 as president of the Minnesota State Agricultural Society, Colonel William S. King was in charge of the first "Minneapolis Exposition." Many buildings were erected including an Agricultural Hall, Mechanical Hall, Art Hall, racetrack, amphitheater, dining rooms and stables. Thousands of people came from Minnesota and the surrounding states. In 1878 Colonel William S. King continued the fair with sponsorhip again by a group of Minneapolis businessmen in conjunction with the Minnesota Agricultural and Mechanical Association. Many special events were staged through the years including an appearance by President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1878, and an impressive hot-air balloon launch in 1881. The balloon's destination was Boston or Philadelphia or New York depending on the air currents, but instead landed a few miles away in a field in Ramsey County.[1,2]

Partly due to Colonel William S. King's expositions' great financial success, in 1878 it began to compete with the official Minnesota State Fair in Saint Paul. In 1884 after eliminating Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis as an option, a permanent location for the Minnesota State Fair was fixed in tiny Hamline, Minnesota, located at the "Midway" between the two rival metropolitan areas. The first official Minnesota State Fair was held there in 1886. King's Fair continued through 1882, but was eventually undone by its competition and closed.[1,2]

Memories and stories

Photo Gallery

Crowd at rear of Grandstand, King's Fair 1878 Agricultural Hall, King's Fair ca 1879

Related Links


1. Roberts, Norene. "King's Fair." Seward Profile, September 1979.

2. Koutsky, Kathryn Strand, and Linda Koutsky. Minnesota State Fair: An Illustrated History. Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 2007.

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