Agricultural History Series

 Missouri State University

 1904 St. Louis Worlds Fair

Horse Shows

The horse shows at the St. Louis World's Fair began on August 24, 1904.  It was noted that $94,300 in prize money was being offered by the fair.  Breed associations were offering additional prize money.  Therefore, a total of more than $150,000 was to be awarded to the winners.  First prizes ranged from $75 to $100. Public auctions were held for the Percherons, French Draft Horses, and Morgans.

Although the fair had opened on April 30, 1904, the livestock area (south of the Horticulture Palace)  was still under construction because it would not be needed until late summer.  However, when the horses started arriving in late August, they found that the horse barns were not yet all roofed and the Livestock Forum and show arena were incomplete.  There was difficulty in convincing train engineers to take cars with horses into that area of the fair.  Also, there were no unloading facilities.

Construction of Horse Barns

Construction was behind schedule in August 1904.

Horse Drawn Construction

A team hard at work.

Nearly completed horse barn

August 1904

1904 Horse Barn

A completed barn.

Horse barn interior

Decorated Interior.

Although the World's Fair Horse show got off to a rough start, everything eventually worked out and successful shows were held.  Shows were held for many common breeds of the day.  Click on the links below to visit pages for each breed:

German Coach French Coach Saddlebred
Shetland Hackney Thoroughbred
Morgan Belgian Clydesdale
Percheron Shire Roadsters
Mules Jacks Other

The final event of the horse show was a parade on September 5.  Between 700 and 800 prize winners took part in the parade that was held at the Livestock Forum. Marches and countermarches encircled the show arena with the horses being ridden or led around the ring several times.  All breeds participated - ranging from the big draft horses to the small Shetlands.  Even the "plain, everyday" mules were led.  Each animal wore the large blue or red ribbon that it had won during the judging.

As soon as the horses had been dismissed from the fairgrounds, the fair's carpenters started cutting the horse stalls out of the barns in preparation for the upcoming cattle shows.

References: St. Louis Republic, September 6, 1904, Breeder's Gazette, 1904.

Photos from Irwin Collection - 1904 Breeder's Gazette.

This page was designed and is maintained by Lyndon Irwin

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