The theme for the 2018 Dallas County Fair in Fordyce, Arkansas, was “Cows, Plows, and Oh, Wows!” Using that as our inspiration, we displayed historical facts and objects related to the agricultural history of Dallas County. “Down on the Farm” was a fun exhibit to create, and we appreciate everyone who loaned us materials to make it diverse and interesting.

2018 Dallas County Fair

“Down on the Farm!”
2018 Dallas County Fair exhibit by the Dallas County Museum

Dallas County has a long history of farming, from vegetables to cotton; from cattle to timber

The first settlers arrived in the 1840’s in Dallas County where they could buy land at $1.25 an acre! Many of these settlers wrote to their families in the eastern states, where farmers had planted the same crops in the same soil year after year. This caused the soil to become poor from over farming due to them not knowing how to do crop rotation.

The promise of fertile soil convinced these Eastern farmers to move west to Arkansas to buy cheap land to farm. After clearing it of virgin timber, the land was cultivated and corn, cotton, peas, and other vegetables were grown, mainly for the farmer’s own use. By 1850, the county population was 6,877.

By the 1930’s, the county population had reached 14,671, the highest it would ever be. Reforestation efforts began, and in 1974, more than 90% of the original survey area was now woodland for pulpwood and sawlogs; only 9% of Dallas County remained in farms. By the 2012 census of agriculture by the USDA, 0% of the county was used to grow corn, sorghum, wheat, soybean, cotton, or rice.

Rubber the mule with Emmett Jefferson Southall of Cooterneck

(Information taken from Soil Survey of Calhoun and Dallas Counties, Arkansas, 1974 and Old South Frontier: Cotton Plantations and the Formation of Arkansas Society Donald P. McNeilly, University of Arkansas Press, 2000)

Exhibit photos

Here are some of the photographs that were displayed in the exhibit. We thank everyone who contributed!

Sparkman Cotton Gin
Joe and Becky Kauffman with children
1986 Dallas County Farm Family of the Year
Glenna McDonald and her prize hogs at the 1976 fair

Come to visit us to see our farming display upstairs as well as our many, many other wonderful exhibits at the Dallas County Museum!