Fort Collins Images is back! After a 16 month hiatus, I’ve returned to share more vintage images of the Fort Collins, CO area, starting with this great 1889 advertising trade card for the Larimer County Fair.

County Fair Front B680
1889 Larimer County Fair Advertising Card (5 ¼” x 3 ¼”)

As near as I could find by searching the online Colorado Historic Newspaper Collection, the Larimer County Fair started in Fort Collins in 1880. It was run by the Larimer County Agricultural and Mechanical Association from 1880 through 1883, incurring over $4,000 in debt. To salvage the fair, the Larimer County Fair Association was re-organized in March 1884, funded by the sale of stock shares bought by “some of the most prominent farmers, horse men, cattle men, sheep men, fruit growers and manufacturers in the county, all of whom [were] successful and well-to-do business men.”

The Association quickly established a fairgrounds, approximately where Poudre Hospital is today, and began to expand the program and prizes to include horse racing, live stock competitions, and displays of agricultural and mechanical products. They decided to hold a fair in 1884 and renumbered it as the “First Annual Fair of Larimer County.”

It was a four-day fair, starting on September 24, 1884, and included some special contests like a five-dollar gold piece to the “prettiest baby under 15 months of age.” According to the October 2, 1884 Fort Collins Courier, the fair was a huge success, attracting almost 6,000 people over the four-day period.

County Fair Back B680
1889 Larimer County Fair Advertising Card Reverse Side

The Association ran the fair for a few years but after 1891, it seems to have stopped. A Fort Collins Courier article, dated December 16, 1897, reported that the Association had “passed out of existence” and that after paying all their bills, they “had $2.14 to divide among the stock holders.”

Organizers tried again in 1912, reviving the fair in Loveland where it continues to this day as an event at the Ranch, on I25 just north of Crossroads Boulevard.

I’ll share a few more early advertising trade cards, related to Fort Collins, in my next post.

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