Looking Back: Let the Fair Begin!
by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
A big thank you to Valley News for selecting The Grain Valley Historical Society as the Honorary Grand Marshall for the 2021 Fall Festival Parade. I believe Grain Valley was ready for a parade after it was cancelled last year due to COVID.
People had already staked out their spots along Eagles Parkway when I went to line up for the parade 90 minutes before the start time! And there were people all along the route down Main Street and along Walnut.
As we wove our way back to high school, there were still lots of folks waving and cheering all along Kirby Road.
Two years ago I did some research on our community fair for The Voice, an on-line newsletter I write each month. Here is an excerpt from the August, 2019 newsletter.
From the 1983 Guide to Grain Valley, published by The Examiner.
“Community fair will be a first-time event for town “
By Alyson Fortney
After two years of planning, Grain Valley will have its first annual fair this fall.
Dennis Bundren, chairperson of the Grain Valley Fair Association, explained the idea originated as a brainstorm of his two years ago. Burden chose representatives from various organizations in town to serve in the 10-member association.
The Grain Valley Fair Days, scheduled for Sept. 29, 30 and October 1, promises to be full of thrills, food, contest and exhibits.
The article went on to discuss the rides and games of chance, crafts and baked goods from local 4-H clubs, a hot-air balloon race, a demolition derby, a ’66 Mustang display by the Mustang Club of Kansas City and a beer garden. There was no mention of a parade.
In 1993, the fair was held at the 94-acre Grain Valley Memorial Fairground on Old U.S. 40 east of Main Street. In 1995, the board purchased Gannon-Thomas Hall, formerly owned by the VFW, on Old 40 just west of the fairgrounds. In addition to the fair, the facilities were used for community and private functions, sand drag races and the Kansas City Indian Club Pow-Wow.
In the 1997 Guide to Grain Valley, Bill Bushey, president of the Grain Valley Fair Association boasted the fair was “one of the biggest activities in the city this year”. The fair must have been held in June for a few years, because in 1997 the association changed the date to July 24-27 to have a lesser chance of rain.
The parade that year was the biggest in history as some 300 Shriners were there with motorcycles and trick cars, bands and flashy outfits!
After the Grain Valley Community Center was completed in 2001 and the fair moved to the present location. It was obvious from the traffic in town on Saturday before, during and after the parade that the citizens of Grain Valley continue to support and enjoy this nearly 40 year-old tradition.
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