Jackson, Sam

~The Atoka County Fair~

The Choctaw, Chickasaw whites and the Negroes began in the late 1800s holding the County and District Fair and Livestock Show here at Atoka, Oklahoma. Certain leading men, acting as committees, organized and established these fairs to be held in the month of August or September of each year. Negroes, Indians, Whites and Intermarried citizens would bring farm products, livestock and poultry from the surrounding district. All agricultural products and livestock would be sold at auction or at private sale at these fairs, which encouraged more livestock and poultry raising, as well as the raising of fruit of different kinds. Each and every year these fairs would reach out to and bring in a larger territory and more committees surrounding Atoka. After several years they began to bring in the Natural resources of the Indian Territory such as coal, minerals, asphalt, granite, and other minerals, including lead and zinc that had been discovered in different parts of the surrounding district. Also women of this district would bring in fruits, vegetation, melon, corn, cotton, baskets, clothing, fancy work and literature, songs and poetry written and produced by them. The citizens of the surrounding districts looked forward to these fairs for the advertisement and sale of their goods. Sawmills and other industries also joined their exhibits at these fairs. They became so successful in the advertisement of their products that the Fair was carried o n yearly for twenty years. Fairs help build churches, civilization, establish school and enlighten the people in general. It became a common thing to take a load of water melons, corn, cotton seed, oats, wheat, pumpkins, vegetables and fruits of all kind to the Fair. Registered stallions, Jack bulls, milk cows, hogs, sheep, goats, and race horses were all shown there and sports and recreations were carried o n at these fairs. Ball playing, dancing, horse racing, athletic contest were a part of the Fair as were the stands for cold drinks, flying swings, and different shows similar to street carnivals. At different times a large speaker’s platform would be constructed o n or near these grounds and different speakers of the surrounding country and other states would make various talks o n different subjects, agricultural, milling, schools, churches, railroads and dirt roads, highways and the up-building and future of what then was Indian Territory. The talks were made by leading men both in Choctaw and English. Rev. J.S. Marrow, an Indian Missionary, George Payton, Choctaw, Allinton Telle, E.F. Smallwood, Rev. Allen Wright, all Choctaws, William Harrison, Choctaw Councilor, Robert L. Williams, J.G. Ralls, whites, and John Harrison Legal Interpreter and Joe Hailey, a visiting speaker from Texas were some of the people that attended the fair. These fairs proved to be successful in helping build the country as well as schools and churches of the town. A big barbecue dinner usually is given with the fairs. To those who entered an exhibit, prizes were given ranging from $1.00 to $5.00 and more. But o n account of depression and drought in the last few years there have not been any fairs held in Atoka County.