One of Muskogee’s most important institutions is the Oklahoma Free State Fair, organized in 1916 and chartered by the state February 26, 1917.
During the years gone by, Muskogee had held various fairs with more or less success, but all of them had been dependent upon admission fees to meet their expenses, and the gate receipts were not always sufficient to insure the payment of premiums offered, the stockholders being called upon to make up the deficits.
When it was proposed to organize a Free State Fair with “the gates wide open” to all visitors, many of the directors of former fairs balked, declaring that it would be impossible to pay expenses and they saw visions of larger deficits than they had been called upon to meet in former years. But the fertile brain of Mr. Tams Bixby, Sr., had conceived a plan by which a Free State Fair could be made to succeed,, and which, supported by his indomitable energy, did finally attain a degree of success which exceeded the fondest hopes of the fair officials.
In 1918 the citizens of Muskogee voted a park bond issue of $100,000, the proceeds being used to purchase and beautify the fair grounds. In 1919 the Legislature appropriated $50,000 for the construction of two large buildings, one to contain the agricultural exhibits of the state, the other to house the exhibits of the various Indian tribes. This agricultural building with its exhibits has already accomplished much good toward educating the farmers of Oklahoma along the lines of diversification of crops and improved methods of agriculture.
The Indian building is crowded each year with the products of the Indians and a lively spirit of competition has been aroused among the members of the various tribes which promises favorably for the future. Aside from the entertainment that is furnished by the fair association, special effort is exerted to make it an educational institution. Special lectures are given upon agriculture, horticulture, bee culture and the domestic arts, which are highly instructive and interesting to the general public, and special instruction is given to the numerous boys’ and girls’ industrial clubs At its annual exhibition held during the first week in October, 1921, $25.000 were paid in premiums and the value of livestock on exhibition approximated $2,000,000.
The Association has already invested over $400,000, in buildings and the demand for more space for exhibits increases each succeeding year. A very large share of the credit for building up this splendid institution is due to Mm Bixby who has served as its president continuously since its organization. His death a few months ago leaves a vacancy in the fair directory that will be difficult to fill. The fair association ought to erect a monument near the entrance to the Free State Fair Grounds to the memory of Mr. Bixby.
It is not within the scope of this history to describe in detail all. The group includes Plowman, fifty-three times champion, more championships than any bull living or dead; sold for a record price of $40,000.00. Also Twinburn Pride 5th with thirty-seven championships to her credit; and one of her daughters.
Of the industries and institutions which now flourish in Muskogee, nor even to mention the names of all the good men and women who are now contributing their share toward making of it a larger and better city. This task belongs to the future historian. History is that branch of human knowledge which records past events, and it has been the aim of this work to record the principal incidents connected with the early settlement, growth and development of this section of Oklahoma. What the future historian may have to record, depends upon the activity, foresight and integrity of the men and women who are now the principal actors in life’s drama. When one recalls, however, the extremely adverse circumstances under which the remarkable progress and development of the past decades have been accomplished, there is no cause for doubt or fear concerning the future.
Source: Benedict, John D. Muskogee and northeastern Oklahoma, including the counties of Muskogee, McIntosh, Wagoner, Cherokee, Sequoyah, Adair, Delaware, Mayes, Rogers, Washington, Nowata, Craig, and Ottawa. 3 v. illus., ports., facsims. 28 cm. Chicago, S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1922.