Wednesday, July 23, 2008
It's high summer and for a lot of communities that means the beginning of fair season. The Lake County Fair is going on this week, July 22-27, and is celebrating its 156th anniversary.
The county's fair was begun by local nurseryman, Robert Douglas, who held arbor and floral exhibits at the county courthouse in Waukegan during summers in the late 1840s. His project turned into the Lake County Agricultural Society which in turn became the Lake County Fair Association. The first county fair was held in Waukegan in 1852.
And what would a fair be without a fair queen? The first modern pageant was staged by P.T. Barnum in 1854. The first bathing beauty pageant took place as part of a summer festival to promote business in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, in 1880 with inventor, Thomas Edison, as a judge, and the prize a bridal trousseau.
The Chicago World’s Fair of 1933-34, chose Miss Lillian Anderson (see photo) of Racine, Wisconsin, and later of Libertyville, to be the fair’s queen. Anderson paraded with her court of fifty attendants into the fair on opening day. The attendants wore white and cream dresses with broad-brimmed hats of red. The Chicago Daily News described the scene: “Queen Lillian herself occupied a red throne under a feathery red canopy and smiled prettily at the reviewing stand with a perfectly executed "eyes right."