The first official state fair was held in 1905 in Douglas, Wyoming and from the beginning, the Arapaho attended the fair as both performers and exhibitors. For the first few years, the Fair was an adult only event that drew merchants and producers to sell their goods and show their livestock. In 1924, Chief Yellow Calf of the Arapaho attended and brought many of his men to perform.
According to the State Fair website, the Wyoming State Fair had its roots back as early as 1886 in an event called the “First Annual Wyoming Territorial Fair” conducted by the Board of Trustees of the Wyoming Fair Association. The original 80 acre site is lost to history but was somewhere along the old Cheyenne and Northern Railroad right-of-way, near Cheyenne.
The main emphasis at the early State Fair were agricultural exhibits and the winners were showcased proudly in the Cheyenne newspaper.
One section in November 1909 was titled Indian Department and listed the Arapaho women who had won ribbons that year. The majority of these women lived in Arapaho, Wyoming and their descendants still live on the Wind River Reservation today.
Wyoming Industrial Journal no. 6
November 01, 1909, page 4
Mrs. Thos. Crispen, Arrapahoe, four first, and three second.
Angelia Spoonhunter, Arapahoe, four firsts and two second.
Mrs. Judith W. Bell, Arapahoe, two firsts.
Mrs. Duck Dewey, Arapaho, two first
Alice S. Head, Arapahoe, one first and two second
Sara Enos, Wind River, one first and one second.
Mrs. Chas. Whiteman, Arapahoe, one first and two second.
Pearl Cullins, Arapahoe, one first.
Mrs. Kathryn Crook, Arapahoe, one first.
Mrs. Matilda Spoonhunter, Arapahoe, one first.
Sun Road, Arapahoe, one first.
Mrs. Brokenhorn, Arapahoe, one first.
Lottie Monroe, Arapaho, one first.
Emma Lajeunnesse, Wind River, one second.
Mrs. Duck, Arapahoe, one second.
Mrs. Paul Sleeping Bear, Arapahoe, one second.
Sleeping Bear, Arapahoe, one second.
The Arapaho and Shoshone Indians have actively participated for generations in the state fair and continue to do so.
For more about the history of the Douglas State Fair, visit http://www.wystatefair.com/about/history.php
By Jackie Dorothy 2017, the Many-Great-Granddaughter of Matilda Spoonhunter, winner of a first place ribbon.