Cass County Fair is an important part of Pine River history

150th committee member shares a reflection ahead of the city's 150th celebration

Cows arrive at the Pine River Railway Depot in 1913 for the annual agricultural fair.
Contributed / "Logsleds to Snowmobiles"

PINE RIVER — The fairgrounds have been an important part of Pine River's history.

The Agricultural Fair — later to become the Cass County Agricultural Association and now simply called the Cass County Fair — was started early in the village's history and put Pine River on the county and regional map. The early fair was near where city hall is now located.

As the fair became a county activity, the grounds moved farther north toward its present location.

Read more about Pine River history

In 1935, Lewis Walton was elected Fair Board president after serving the first year as vice president.

By 1940, 2,300 people attended the annual fair barbecue. The traditional barbecue made the Pine River Fair famous.


In 1950, the Farm Bureau 4-H Club Dormitory was built and was ready when the fair opened on Aug. 21, 1950. The building burned down in 2018 and the New Life Church is located where the dormitory once stood.

On the second day of the fair that year, more than 4,000 people were on the grounds.

The fair was so popular that in 1955, and in accordance with the custom of years past, Pine River business firms closed at noon Tuesday, Aug. 23, 1955, so all personnel could have the opportunity to attend the fair.

Read more local area news

The 60th annual Cass County Fair opened Monday, Aug. 23, 1965, for a three-day run. Fair President Don Smith reported the overall attendance that year was 2,314, with gate receipts of $1,486.75 and 1,200 exhibitors.

On Wednesday, the parade, sponsored by the Whitefish Saddle Club, went down Pine River Main Street at 11 a.m. enroute to the fairgrounds.

This year, the 150th anniversary parade will also start at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 8, and will go down Main Street (Barclay Avenue).

On Sept. 7, 1965, the Cass County Fair experienced a great loss. The original main exhibit building was destroyed by fire. The interior walls, floors and furnishings were completely burned. Pine River firemen had reason to believe the fire was intentionally set and called the state fire marshal to investigate the incident.

The Pine River 150th Year Committee invites everyone to attend the events scheduled July 6-8. Let's see if there will be as many people in town as there was during the 1950 Cass County Fair.


The Grand Ole Opry was brought to the 1967 Cass County Fair. An 8 p.m. performance on Aug. 23, 1967, included stars from Nashville, Tennessee, and it was called a Country Music Jubilee.


This year during the 150th celebration, once again entertainment is coming from Nashville. Lefty and the Right Hand Band will perform at the new Damsite Supper Club on Friday, July 7, and Saturday, July 8, from 6-10 p.m. both days.

The first day of the Pine River 150th celebration Thursday, July 6, will include the tour of the original site of the Barclay Trading Post and a cemetery tour.

The second day of the celebration Friday, July 7, will feature the Quilt Show at the First Lutheran Church in Pine River, the Wefelmeyer Picklefest and Variety Show.

The third day of the celebration Saturday, July 8, will feature a car show at the Cass County Fairgrounds, and the Quilt Show and Variety Show. The classic cars will leave from the fairgrounds and be part of the 11 a.m. parade down Barclay Avenue (Main Street).

The All School Reunion will take place all three days of the celebration. In addition, many local groups will host events.

The information on the Cass County Fair history was gathered from articles appearing in the Pine River Journal newspaper.

Headline News from The PineandLakes Echo Journal

The 600-page “Logsleds to Snowmobiles” book was published to commemorate the Pine River Centennial in 1973. This article was written using excerpts from that book.


Heritage Group North is working to have reprints made of the “Logsleds to Snowmobiles” book. If you don't have a copy now, you may reserve a copy of the reprint by contacting Pat Johnson, of Heritage Group North, at 218-851-0898 or to preorder.

Heritage Group North and the Pine River Area Historical Society, working in conjunction with Pine River's 150th Year Committee, will be gathering historical updates from businesses, families and organizations to produce a second edition history book. The second edition is being collected to give anyone who was in the 1973 book a chance to update the years from 1973 to 2023.

Also, anyone who did not submit information to the first book is welcome to do so in the second edition.

Renee Geving and Cecilia McKeig, with the Cass County Historical Society, along with Heritage Group North will collect and scan photographs and documents from 1-4 p.m. May 21, June 4, July 2, Aug. 6 and Sept. 10 at the Historic Pine River Depot.

Pat Johnson is a member of the Pine River 150th Year Committee.

What To Read Next
Get Local


Must Reads