Elks Carnival Held First Week Of July 1914 Draws Thousands To Public Square
Long before Public Square began holding block parties in the modern era, the Elks Carnival was held there on July 1, 1914. The Board of Public Works granted permission in early June of that year for the Watertown Lodge, B. P. O. Elks to use both Public Square and lower Washington Street for its street fair and carnival the first week of July to benefit the lodge and City Hospital.
L. G. DeCant, chairman of the Elks’ Fourth of July committee, requested permission for the street fair with the first three days’ receipts to be given to the City Hospital, also known as The House of the Good Samaritan. The fair itself included numerous tents and ten attractions what a separate lawn fete was held nearby as well. The Elks’ Lodge at the time was located in the old Brainard Mansion on Washington Street, located directly next to the Flower Memorial Library. The site of the lodge later became home to the present Agricultural Insurance Building.
Opening night for the Elks Carnival was June 30th and the Watertown Daily Times reported Public Square was crowded until midnight with numerous attractions and ways to spend money—
Judging from the crowds that flocked to the Elks’ carnival on Public Square on the opening night, Tuesday, the fair will be a decided success, financially. From the moment the show opened about 7 until midnight, the midway, down the south side of the Square, was crowded with people, some patronizing the show and others there for curiosity. It is safe to say, though, that but few people, whether they came from curiosity or not, got away without spending, at least, some of their money.
There is everything to see from the smallest man in the world to the fattest woman in the world, and ways to spend money from throwing a ring about a box of candy and getting the candy, to hitting a bell 25 feet in the air and getting a few cigars.
“Crazy Town” appeared to the genuine hit, providing the most amusement. The Times would not spoil the “secret” of the event, only to say “It would be unfair to give away the secret, but suffice to say, that whoever takes the trip will get a good hearty laugh.”
A motordome also proved to be a thrilling spectacle with motorcyclists riding about the bowl “at a speed so fast one can hardly follow with the eye.” The performance also included a race between two motorcyclists, the least little slip on the part of either meaning almost sure death to both.
In the photograph provided above, one might ask “Who is Billy, the Original?” 20-year old Major Lee, apparently his given name, drew quite a crowd standing not more than two-and-a-half feet tall. Opposite him was an obese woman, said to be 18 years of age, who stood 5’4” and weighed 485 lbs.
Lawn Fete Held In Conjunction With Carnival
On Washington Street, a lawn fete was held on the Carnival’s first and second night on lower Washington Street in front of the Flower Memorial Library. The Times reported—
Hundreds of Watertown people were attracted to the sign of the red cross, which blazed forth in front of the library. But the state artists did not capture all the favors, for the various booths were well patronized.
Another interesting attraction was the midway, where some surprises were cleverly handled by local artists. The cave of the winds offered an opportunity for the witches to play, while the oklaspharum created not little surprise. Besides these amusements were a fortune teller, ring throwing games, animal shows, German dwarf, fat girl, awful art and a shadow picture show.
The area about the library was lighted by thousands of incandescent bulbs, arranged as flowers. The opening night, said to have been a bit on the cool side, managed to draw 1,000.
Military Parade Held On July 4th As Carnival Wrapped Up
A big crowd drawing people from around the area turned out for the last day of the Elks’ Carnival which also featured a Military Parade. The Times reported on July 6th—
Beginning with the parade and ending with the balloon ascension, which was made about 6:30, the Fourth of July program arranged by the Watertown Lodge of Elks, was a decided success. Thousands of people from nearby towns witnessed the celebration.
Forming in front of the State Armory the parade marched through Benedict Street to Trinity Place to Clinton Street and then down Washington Street to Coffeen Street and the fairgrounds. Both sides of each street on the line of the parade were lined with an interested crowd. The parade was headed by a platoon of policemen, followed by Marshal Major M. H. Rice and his staff.
Immediately behind was the Third Battalion band and Company C. of this city, then the band of the 14th Battalion of the Princess of Wales Own Rifles, of Canada, who were brought to this city to participate in the celebration. The band was followed by a regiment, 400 strong. The Canadian soldiers were roundly cheered all along the line by the spectators. There were many cheers when the two flags, the Stars and Stripes, of our country, and the British flag, passed side by side.