AEROPLANE AT THE 1911 SEYMOUR FAIR
Attend the Big Seymour Fair 1911 Style
Over the years many nationally known entertainers have appeared at the Seymour Fair. It became the official Outagamie County Fair in 1920. People attending the fair have had the opportunity to listen to stars ranging from Roy Rogers and Dale Evans to Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash. Prior to 1958 the musical venue in front of the grandstand usually featured local musicians augmented by novelty acts such as acrobats, thrill shows and horse races.
Perhaps the most unusual performance in the fair's 130 year history took place in 1911 when a aeroplane took off and landed in front of the grandstand. Since this was only eight years after the Wright brothers inaugural flight, it generated much interest in Seymour and the surrounding area. A large ad in the Seymour Press stated, "This is no bluff" and assured fairgoers it was an actual "Air Ship" that would fly over the fairgrounds.
The ad listed the terms of agreement between the Seymour Fair Association and the International Aviation Association of Chicago.
"Actual flights will be made on Friday and Saturday Sept. 29 and 30 by an experienced aviator representing The International Aviation Association of Chicago. This is no bluff. The Fair Association has entered into a contract, which, in short is as follows: "If a successful flight is made each day the aviation association is to receive $900.00. If only one flight is made $550.00. In case of very bad weather so that no flight can be made the Aviation association is to receive $200.00. The Aviation association guarantees the flights to be of at least five minutes duration and of such merit that they will please the Fair Association's patrons.
The aeroplane machines and flights are the biggest and most wonderful attractions ever invented. The flights are guaranteed to be made unless the weather is very bad. The machine will be on exhibition at the fair where it can be examined. The flights are to be made between 2 and 5 o'clock p.m."
Most likely, the intrepid pilot was 21 year old Beckwith Havens who was touring county fairs in Wisconsin during this time. He was taught to fly by pioneer Glenn Curtiss and was a member of the Curtiss Exhibition Team.
The poster for the fair also boasted of balloon ascensions, a parachute drop, horse races, music and baseball games. Since the emphasis was agriculture the fair was held in late September to allow for the crops to mature.