Ionia Free Fair (Mich.) Organizational records
1949-1956, and Undated
The Ionia Free Fair was started by Governor Fred Green, [1927-1930], a former Ionia mayor, and his partner, Fred Chapman. They wanted to offer area residents something different and spectacular with free admission. The fair continues to promote commerce in Ionia, Michigan. It includes a beauty contest for Fair Queen. In the 1940s-1950s, the Queen won a three-day trip to Chicago. Fair booths are operated by local and national companies. Three days of harness racing, two days of auto racing, a parade, and grand stand performances entertained crowds numbering up to 15,000 occurred during the 1940s-1950s. Governor G. Mennen Williams visited at least one fair.
The Ionia Free Fair continues to be the World’s largest event of its type. In the 2001 it hosted more than 500,000 persons who saw headline entertainers, a spectacular midway, and a variety of animal and household exhibits. Admission to the fair is still free. (Historical information is from the collection. This information is from the City of Ionia website, viewed August 2002.)