Perham is marking its 150th year in 2021, but the East Otter Tail County Fair, which returns to Perham this week, did not spring up until almost 40 years later.
In 1910, Perham hosted the first ever East Otter Tail County Fair in order to promote local farms and provide family entertainment. While there were other Perham-hosted fairs in the past, this was the first to be sponsored by the East Otter Tail County Agricultural Society, making it the first official one.
Following the fair, the headline of the Oct. 6, 1910, edition of the Perham Enterprise-Bulletin said, "Market Day and Fair on Saturday was a hummer! Attendance largest in history of Perham. Everybody pleased."
On Saturday of that 1910 week, teams came early in the morning with all of their exhibits. Around noon, the streets were packed with people from all around East Otter Tail County. The article even indicated that this Saturday, the largest number of people ever seen in Perham came to town for the deals. Those that helped organize it were pleased.
The article described this fair as "one of the most successful and largest attended fairs that has ever been held in Perham."
Awards were given to different crops and livestock, the best drawn maps in Minnesota and Otter Tail County, the best draft team and more. A $2 cash prize was given to the heaviest married couple attending and the largest load of people traveling to town in one vehicle.
The article mentioned that, due to the weather conditions of the previous season, organizers thought a fair in 1910 wouldn't garner a lot of attention. However, it was heavily advertised, and cash premiums were offered. Because of this, they managed to get the reported record attendance.
After its success, officers of the fair had already decided to hold an even bigger one the following year. Since then, the East Otter Tail County Fair has only continued to grow.
2021's fair will take place from July 22-25. During-the-fair prices are seven tickets for $20, one ticket for $3 and a family pack of 20 tickets for $50. Armbands will be $20. For the full schedule of events, visit eotcountyfair.org/lineup.