Monday, January 25, 2016

Romantic Refinements by Anita Mae Draper ends Feb. 1

Blogpost for Debbie Lynne’s blog – Jan 25, 2016


Austin’s Capital State Fair

By Anita Mae Draper


Since my novella, Romantic Refinements, is set near historical Austin, Texas, I spent days researching the time period and general area for events that I could use in my story. The State Fair would be perfect for my story because I wanted my main characters to wander on the fairgrounds during the afternoon, and then make some personal discoveries during the evening’s dance.



The problem was that my story was set in 1882, but all references to the Texas State Fair placed its origin in 1886. Here’s what the Texas State Historical Associations’s Handbook of Texas has to say about its origin:

STATE FAIR OF TEXAS. The Dallas State Fair and Exposition, to which the present State Fair of Texas traces its origin, was chartered as a private corporation on January 30, 1886, by a group of Dallas businessmen…”


Well, that wouldn’t work, so I went back to researching. About this time, the other Austen in Austin novella authors were discussing where we would locate the one feature common in all of our novellas – the   Jeanette C. Austen Academy for Young Ladies. From that, the Hyde Park area was bantered around so I dug around there to see if I could use it.


Imagine my delight when I discovered a Wikipedia article stating, Located approximately twenty blocks from Austin's original town site, the area now known as Hyde Park was largely rural in character for much of the 19th century. The State Fair of Texas was held in the eastern sections of Hyde Park from 1875 until it was moved to Dallas in 1884.”


And then while checking out the Austin History Center, I found this old glass negative showing the State fairgrounds with its racetrack, grandstands and spectators located at Hyde Park.


State Fairgrounds, Hyde Park J302 - Courtesy of
There were more mentions of the Capital State Fair in Austin, such as this message from Michael C. Miller, Manager, Austin History Center, Austin Public Library in response to a question about the State and County Fairs and Expositions. Mr. Miller states, “The Capital State Fair was held in Austin 1875-1884 on the Fairgrounds in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Austin. For a good overview of the fair, see chapter 1 of "Austin's Hyde Park" by Sarah and Thad Sitton (Pecan Press, 1991). Information about this fair can also be found in Frank Brown's "Annals of Travis County.”…” and then he added a list of available resources, most of which I haven’t been able to locate online.



However, his mention of “2 exhibit catalogs (1878 and 1884)” sent me searching the ranks of Google Books, which is where I found an image of the cover of the 1884 Capital State Fair Programme & Premium List, and the accompanying text which states, “The Capital State Fair of Texas, predecessor of the Dallas State Fair, was held in Austin from 1875 through 1884.”

 
Cover of Capital State Fair 1884 Programme & Premium List

I found the above image in the book, Texas Furniture, Volume Two: The Cabinetmakers and Their Work, 1840–1880 By Lonn Taylor and David B. Warren, and although I don’t normally post images from books, this is the only image I could find of either of the aforementioned 1878 and 1884 catalogs (also called exhibition list).


The reason for furniture being included in a state fair listing was because it was one of many options available for exhibitors. I’m not sure if contemporary state fairs have commercial furniture exhibits, but usually, there is a chance to enter your own hand-crafted treasures, such as woodworking, needlecrafts, and other creations, in the general, youth, or schoolwork categories of  local country fairs.

While still in Google Books, I saw a blurb using the phrase, Capitol State Fair. So, I changed my search box to reflect Capitol instead of Capital, and I found the Premium List for the Thirty-First Annual Illinois State Fair to be held at Chicago, September 24-29, 1883, with this image inside:


State and Other Fairs, 1884

There it was, near the bottom, listed in second-last place:

TEXAS – Austin – Capital State Fair Association, Oct. 7-11


My research as far as there being a State Fair in Austin in 1882 was complete – there certainly had been one even it isn’t recognized as such in the Texas State Historical Associations’s Handbook of Texas.



When you read my Austen in Austin novella, Romantic Refinements, I hope you enjoy the chapter(s) on the State Fair, because once I’d established that there had been one, my next task had been to research exhibits and midway entertainment. Research fun never ends.


Giveaway – a digital copy of Austen in Austin Volume 1



Anita Mae Draper's stories are written under the western skies where she lives on the prairie of southeast Saskatchewan with her hubby of 30 plus years and the youngest of their four kids. When she's not writing, Anita enjoys photography, research, and travel, and is especially happy when she can combine the three in one trip. Anita's current release is Romantic Refinements, a novella in Austen in Austin Volume 1, WhiteFire Publishing, January 2016.  Anita is represented by Mary Keeley of Books & Such Literary Management. You can find Anita Mae at  www.anitamaedraper.com


15 comments:

  1. I am very impressed with your diligence to have your novella be accurate. Since I love history and I enjoy research (I was a public librarian who answered a lot of reference questions), I know I will enjoy reading about this part of Texas history!
    Blessings!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks, Connie. Librarians are great! I worked as a Librarian's helper in my high school library and loved handling all the books. I'm so very glad you stopped by and shared today. :)

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  2. I hate it when I don't feel something is accurate for period! jarning67(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Joan, I know what you mean, and I try my best, however, I have to say that sometimes, despite hours of research, we either can't find the answer, or we find several opposing views - like in this case. And then there are the times when regional differences come into play. Those are the times I wonder why I try so hard.

      My husband used to be a cop, and now that he's a regular reader of Inspiration Romantic Suspense, he laughs at many books (and TV shows) that show erroneous and implausible theories or facts. But, he says he won't let them spoil his pleasure of the actual story.

      I guess we're all trying to find the truth even though we sometimes miss the mark.

      Thanks for stopping by.

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  3. Sounds like you had to do a little digging!

    Pattymh2000(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Yes, Patty, but I love digging! In my free time, I'm a rock hound, which involves actual digging, too. :D

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  4. I think that's half the reason we write historical, Anita. We like the research!

    Also, we all spent a fair amount of effort to set cameo visits by other characters and keep the interaction and returning 'setting' true. Thanks for your diligence, Anita!

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    1. Thanks for popping in, Deb. Yes, I treasured the time I spent with the rest of you on creating and research, emailing images back and forth, etc. Writing is such a lonely career and it was so nice to work as a group this time.

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  5. Anita Mae, you always turn up the most interesting research. And that love of the history just pervades your stories and makes them so interesting!

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    1. Thank you Lisa, that's an honor coming from you. I can't wait until Volume 2 comes out with your story in it. :)

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  6. As a Texas State Fair goer for many, many years, I found this fascinating. You always impress me with your research, Anita! Looking forward to reading this story. :D

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    1. Haha! I was hoping you'd get a chance to read it, DeAnna. I was sitting on the edge of my chair waiting for you to pop in with something I'd overlooked. Phew. You made my day! :)

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  7. As always, a fascinating post full of cool visuals, Anita Mae.

    Congratulations on the release of Romantic Refinements! Such a fun story, and I'm so excited to be part of the book with you!

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    1. Thanks, Susie, and nice words about the images although I know they didn't come out too well despite my best efforts.

      Perhaps we can work on another project once your current deadlines are over? I'd love that!

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  8. Congratulations, Patty. You won. I'll be sending you an email shortly.

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