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Turns of the Centuries Exhibit > The Land 1880-1920 > Agriculture
This theme in other eras: 1680-1720 | 1780-1820 | 1880-1920

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.

Agriculture : Survival and Revival


Regional fairs enjoyed enormous popularity across the country and quickly became an agrarian institution. While advice books, almanacs and periodicals of the 1800s encouraged farmers to improve farming techniques and try new methods, many farmers did not readily adopt these new ideas. The Fair proved a more successful vehicle for bringing farmers together and highlighting innovative and high-performing agricultural practices. Fair organizers rewarded farmers who produced top-of-the-line livestock and crops with prizes and publicity.

The Fair and its mission took on renewed urgency in the Northeast at the turn of the twentieth century. New England agriculture had begun to suffer from competition with other regions with the opening of the Erie and other canals to the west in the 1820s. That competition intensified as railroads began transporting western-grown meat, grain and other produce from across the country. At the same time, New England farmers struggled with deteriorating soil conditions and lower profits. Opportunistic microbes caused blights and low productivity in soils devoted to the same crop year after year. Farmers had to embrace more aggressive land use and exploit new markets in order to survive. Many farm families supplemented their incomes by going into the tourist business, renting rooms and offering "home-cooked meals" to city-weary urban visitors. Old Home Days and Fairs attracted paying visitors, including former residents who had left the countryside for jobs in the cities. Farmers also focused on regional specialties such as dairying, ice harvesting, growing cranberries, and maple sugar production. The Eastern States Exposition opened in 1916, as part of an ambitious plan to highlight the best New England has to offer in agriculture and industry. The organizers believed the Exposition would help to revive the ailing agricultural base of the region.

Mack the Ox was a particularly impressive example of an animal renowned for his stature. Mack traveled to numerous fairs where appreciative audiences willingly parted with ten cents to view this enormous animal.


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"Mack the Giant Ox" Banner

date   1900-1906
location   Buckland, Massachusetts
height   119.0"
width   115.0"
process/materials   oil on canvas
item type   Public Announcements/Banner
accession #   #1992.01.01

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See Also...

Jerry "The Avery Steer" Banner at the Fair

Jerry with Rocking Chair

New Entrance to the Live Wire Fair

Some Apples and Potatoes - Eastern States Expo.

Coliseum Building, Eastern States Exposition

Old State House and Midway, Eastern States Expo.

"Tis Sixty Years Since. The Passing of the Stall-fed Ox and the Farm Boy"

Avery Oxen Show Admission Ticket

"Giant Oxen" Poster

"Avery Oxen" Poster

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