While we wait (and wait, and wait) for Michigan racing to right the ship or sink, I’d like to share a small piece of the state’s racing history I managed to snag on eBay.
As mentioned in a previous post, a pair of racing programs from the 1924 Alpena County Fair were offered on the online auction website, and I was the winning bidder.
Considering the age and use of the programs, they are in very good condition. The programs consist of a single piece of heavy stock paper folded down the middle to resemble a book. I believe elementary school students call this “hamburger style”.
Inside the programs are the entries for four races. Two are clearly marked pace events. The other two are a tad more ambiguous. The “County Race” and “Free For All Run” are race conditions I am unfamiliar with – harness or otherwise.
The highest published purse on the day’s card was a whopping $300. Using the Inflation Calculator, that purse would be equal to about $3,791.48 at last year’s rates. For a fair circuit track in rural northeast Michigan, that’s not bad at all.
Period-specific idiosyncrasies are plentiful in the programs. One can hardly argue with a 35-cent lunch or a men’s suit for $28.50. The two and three-digit phone numbers must have been easy to memorize, as well, when one needed to call the Studebaker Motor Cars dealer or the local radio shop.
For less than five bucks, these programs provided an interesting snapshot of the state’s fair racing scene, and that of its surrounding community. It was definitely worth the purchase, and I am happy to share it with my readers.
Today, the number of county fairs in Michigan still hosting harness racing is dwindling, but they are still out there. I have yet to attend any of the state’s fair races, but I intend to do something about that this summer – especially if it is my only option.
If any readers have any stories or fond recollections of racing on Michigan’s fair circuit, they are more than welcome to share them.
Behind the jump are photos of the racing program from the 1924 Alpena County Fair
Whoever had this program at the races took impressive race notes, with positions and times for each point of call. In a world without Equibase, race fans had to call their own charts. What a time we live in.