This farmland was the site of the New London Fairground from 1891-1912. Today's farmhouse was built to be the dining hall for fairgoers. The 1905 view of the fairgrounds shown here depicts the grandstand, horse barn, racetrack, and judges' stand. None of these buildings exist today. During the 22 years the fairs were held, the grounds were privately owned by James Henry Cannon, the leading organizer and a zealous promoter of the fair.
Thousands of people attended the fairs annually. They compared exhibits of livestock, vegetables, flowers, and needlework. Local merchants showcased their wares in a variety of displays. Trained dogs and goats performed stunts, while grafters hoodwinked people with games and ruses. Children of all ages were entertained by a steam-powered "whirly-go-round." An annual feature of the New London Fair was the harness races. Horses came from throughout the Midwest to compete for cash prizes ranging from $75 to $450. The track record was set in 1899 by Maurine, a horse owned by Cannon. The time was 2:17.
Special attractions highlighted some fairs. In 1897, 3,000 fairgoers stood in the rain to hear Wisconsin politician Robert "Fighting Bob" La Follette espouse the direct primary. In 1910, fairgoers witnessed two parachutists jump from a hot air balloon, and in 1912,
an astonished crowd saw a pilot circle above the fairgrounds in a biplane. James Cannon died in 1912, and the last fair was held that year. In 1914, the property was purchased by George Thern, and in 2014, Thern descendants received the Century Farm Award for 100 years of family ownership of the land.