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Senior Times • August 2019

Bicounty fair and rodeo roots run deep

BY EAST BENTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Sixty-five years ago this month, the Benton County Fair and Rodeo came into its own. Officially! By tradition, the bicounty fair is said to have begun in the late 1940s with the ending of the annual Grape Festivals, which for decades highlighted the area’s rich agricultural history and practices. Spinning off from that was the county fair. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, it was called the Benton County Fair and Rodeo, with the apparent understanding that Franklin County was embedded in the enterprise, if not officially in name. Newspaper accounts would reference the bicounty fair. It became so in 1954 when the August gathering of farmers and cowboys became officially known for the first time as the Benton Franklin Fair & Rodeo, a tradition that still stands nearly seven decades later. The royalty court reigning over that first officially named bicounty fair was headed by Queen Mary Jean Mullineaux of West Richland who

Courtesy East Benton County Historical Society This promotional fair photo from 1954 features Queen Mary Jean Mullineaux.

demonstrated excellent skills in horsemanship. Her quartet of princesses were JoAnn Austin of Kennewick, Sandra Wade of Prosser, Teddy Anderson of Pasco, and Marlene Ross of Kennewick, The 1954 Benton-Franklin County Fair began on Friday, Aug, 27, and concluded on Sunday night, Aug, 29.

In the tradition of fairs, the 1 ½-hour parade in downtown Kennewick on the second day of the fair and rodeo drew 15,000 parade enthusiasts to the mid-morning event, taking in the colorful highlights that included riders on horseback, bands, clowns, royalty and creative floats in the organizational, commercial and civic categories. Today’s parade is

always on the Saturday before opening of the fair. This year it’s at 10 a.m. Aug. 17 in downtown Kennewick. Introduced in the 1954 fair parade procession was the military’s new Nike guided missile anti-aircraft weapon. Col. Nathaniel Borden, commanding officer of Camp Hanford, promised and delivered the missile for display in the parade, along with marching troops. Anti-aircraft artillery guns were being replaced by the guided missiles as part of Camp Hanford’s ongoing role in protecting the Hanford nuclear site. The Nike missile and marching troops weren’t Camp Hanford’s only contribution to the parade. Its U.S. 72nd Army Band took first place among marching groups in the parade. The Tri-City Elks organization took the sweepstakes award in the 1954 parade. It was something of an electrical power tie for best float in the commercial division. Tied for first were both the Benton County Public Utility District, and the Franklin County Public Utility District. uFAIR, Page 15

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Senior Times -- August 2019  

The Senior Times has been delivering news to Mid-Columbia seniors since 1982. Each issue is filled with local events, stories on finance and...

Senior Times -- August 2019  

The Senior Times has been delivering news to Mid-Columbia seniors since 1982. Each issue is filled with local events, stories on finance and...

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