Our County History
by County Historian Marion W. Coplen

In 1888 Beyer Brothers, wholesale dealers in dairy products purchased a large tract of land on the east side of Winona Lake (then Eagle lake). Within a few years they had developed this area into a popular picnic and recreational site which they called Spring Fountain Park. Associations from far and near came to the park for short outings. for seven years this park was operated as Spring Fountain Park. In 1895 it was sold to a new group and renamed Winona Lake.

One of the highlights of the year at Spring Fountain Park was an annual fair sponsored by a local group known as the Exhibition and Savings association. Joe Ettinger recently sent us a copy of the 40-page booklet which this association put out in 1892 advertising their exhibition of that year.

According to the booklet the 1892 fair was held from Wednesday through Saturday, October 5-8. A season ticket cost $1 and a single admission was 25 cents. Ten cents extra was charged for bringing a single horse conveyance into the grounds, and the cost was 20 cents for a two-horse conveyance.

The exhibition was divided into the following departments: horses, cattle, hogs, sheep, poultry, farm products, floral hall, school exhibit, mechanical and speed program. Altogether there were 32 classes of exhibits for which prizes were given by the association.

In the school exhibit department $1 was offered as first prize for the best map of Kosciusko county drawn by any pupil of the third grade. A similar prize was offered for the best map of Indiana drawn by a fourth grader. In the mechanical department a diploma was offered for the best two-horse wagon, the best set of parlor furniture, the best set of wagon harness, etc. In the floral hall department the best display of rag carpets, the best collection of green house plants and the best exhibition of an oil painting actually done by the exhibitor were among the items included on the premium list.

The speed program was perhaps the biggest drawing card. Trotting, pacing and running races were held at the race track on the grounds. A total of $2,000 in prize money was paid out to the winners in the speed program department.

We are grateful to Joe Ettinger for this booklet. If any of our readers can tell us more about the days of Spring Fountain Park we would like to hear from you.

Warsaw Times-Union Sat. Feb. 28, 1953