Dusting Off the Old Ones was published in 1961 by W. B. Clarke, Miles City, Montana.
Custer County's First Fair
Custer County's first fair was held under the sponsorship of the Custer Horse Sale and Fair Association. The dates were October 7, 8 and 9, 1890. There was $2,000 offered in purses. The program consisted of trotting races in the 2:30, 3:00 minute and free-for-all classes; running races for three year olds one mile; half-mile races; mile races for all ages; Indian races; military races--Fort Keogh was in full swing at that time, and there were quite a few soldiers who thought well of their mounts--and hurdle races. At that time there were quite a number of Englishmen in the community and horse racing was as much a part of their lives as the rodeo is a part of the West at the present time, so it can be seen that they were extremely interested in this race meet, especially the hurdle races. In the trotting races among the entries was Forester Boy entered by J. R. McKay who was active in the social and business life of the community, having been at one time county commissioner, later county treasurer and still later state senator from Custer County.

Another entry was John F. entered by John Arnold, a well known racing enthusiast whose headquarters were for some time at Big Timber, Montana. These trotting races were all five heat affairs and the best time recorded at the meet was 2:34½. One of the most interesting of the running races was a contest between Paget's Mermaid, ridden by Johnny Zook; Charlie Lux's Monte, ridden by Cole; and Allerton's Sandy with Astle up--Zook winning with Mermaid. Johnny Zook was at one time County Assessor of Custer County and was the father of the late Fritz Zook.

The Indian race was won by Young Man-Afraid-of-his-Mother-in-law. The second place was taken by Man-Who-Stands-on-His-Ear. But probably the most interesting feature was the hurdle race or steeple-chase. There were four entries--Ekalaka, ridden by Cole; Baldy, ridden by Lindsay; Headlight, ridden by Kirwan; Flaxy, ridden by Paget. The race was won by Ekalaka, and the news comment on it was, "The race was much admired by all present and spoken of by strangers as the prettiest thing of its kind they had ever witnessed." An interesting side light on this race is that one of these riders went to the east coast and became associated with the famous Whitney stables which had horses entered in some of the largest races in the east. This rider was Sid Paget and during the season his local friends watched with interest the luck of the Whitney entries. Another of the riders, Kirwan, had a ranch on Tongue River for many years, afterwards locating on the Boulder River, out of Big Timber, where he maintained a resort.

Above, we have been relating stories concerning the first Custer County fair and promised you that we would tell you where the fair was held. In 1881, Charles E. Brown, better known as "Charlie Brown, the Iceman", and who is the father of Flora B. Stein, still a resident of this community, filed on a tract of land on the west side of what would be Haynes Avenue were it extended north to the Yellowstone river. A part of this land was occupied by a portion of "Old Town", but there was considerable acreage west of "Old Town" extending west to where the Horton and Butler slaughterhouse stood. This was where the promoters of the Custer County Horse Sales and Racing Association held its first race meet on a mile track constructed on this tract with a grandstand on the south side of the track facing north. You can imagine what the temperature was in that grandstand on a bleak October day. Now, as to the promoters of this fair and race meet--it was under the auspices of the Custer County Horse Sales and Fair Association, as previously mentioned, and among the incorporators of this association were such names as William Harmon, prominent livestock man and banker; Jep Ryan, stockman and hardwareman and once Mayor of Miles City; Herman Orschel, proprietor of the clothing store later known as Orschels and known to every cowboy in Eastern Montana; George W. Allerton, insurance man and secretary of the association; Julius Basinski, merchant; C. E. Brown, the iceman; Hi Astle, who operated a livery stable; T. J. Thompson, one-time deputy game warden, and affectionately known among his friends as "Dead Eye" Thompson; Sam Gordon, publisher of the Yellowstone Journal; John M. Holt, prominent stockman; W. D. "Billie" Smith, stock inspector and detective; and many others including George W. Myers, early day buffalo hunter, sheepman and lawyer; S. A. Pepper, a liquor dealer who lived at 911 Bridge Street and kept in the corral at the rear of these premises several of the prettiest Shetland ponies ever to travel the streets of the town.