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Cedar Valley Fairgrounds (site)


Cedar Falls
East of Main Street on Seerley Boulevard

The Cedar Valley Agricultural Society purchased this 80-acre site in 1861 for use as a fairground. Fairs were held here until 1928, when a flood destroyed Dry Run Bridge, the only access to the area at that time. The prohibitive cost of replacing the bridge, and competition from the Dairy Cattle Congress and Belgian Horse Show in Waterloo, brought an end to the Cedar Valley Fair.

The fairgrounds became famous as South Park Trotting Track after Dr. William Pettit acquired them late in the 19th century. The track was half a mile long and included a grandstand, stables and judging stand. Coach, draft and carriage horses were also raised and exercised here. Other spectacles staged at South Park included a contest between an airplane and a racing car driven by Barney Oldfield.

The fairgrounds, by then reduced to 40 acres, were later owned by the Cedar Falls Commercial Club. After 1928, the grandstand was torn down and the racetrack plowed up.

The fairgrounds were located in the area between 18th and 27th streets near Peet Junior High School. Photographs of the fairgrounds and track are on exhibit at the Cedar Falls Historical Society Museum.

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Last updated Wednesday, June 23, 2004

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