NEIGHBORHOOD NOTES | Seward’s King’s Fair of Yesterday and Today


The original 1880 King's Fair in Seward.        The Original King’s Fair of 1880

     This Saturday the Seward neighborhood celebrates a much anticipated festival at Mathews Park known as “King’s Fair.”  This eclectic family-friendly event features home-grown musical talent and entertainment, tasty food by local restaurants, pet judging, artwork by our creative community, interesting history about our neighborhood, and plenty of fun activities organized by our local businesses and neighbors. 

Present Day King's Fair in Mathews Park

The King’s Fair of Today


     Since there is no mention of royalty in the line-up of activities you may be wondering why it is called “King’s” Fair. The fair actually has nothing to do with kings or queens, but is named after a larger than life entrepreneur, Colonel William S. King, who had a talent for attracting a crowd to Seward. King was president of the first “Minneapolis Exposition” which operated from 1877 to 1882 on what was once a large fairground in Seward. “King’s” fair was such a huge success that it even began to compete with the Minnesota State Fair, although it was eventually outdone by its competitor and closed after 1882. When some Seward historians discovered this fascinating piece of history, in 1979 they resurrected King’s Fair as a biannual neighborhood festival. One hundred thirty years later nearly a thousand visitors will gather in Mathews Park for a day of community celebration.

As Seward resident Claudia Rhodes best describes it, “The Kings Fair is a bi-annual reunion event where we residents of Seward neighborhood come together to greet our neighbors maybe for the first time, or if we’re seasoned, reintroduce ourselves and share memories, surmise about the progress we’ve made, observe and discuss where we might be going individually and communally in the future.”   

            But it wouldn’t be a fair without a competition. Seward resident and Veterinarian Bev Mains has judged the fair’s Pet Show/Competition since she moved into the neighborhood in 1974.  Pet judging not only gives children in the neighborhood the opportunity to show off their furry, feathered, and scaled friends, but emphasizes the bond that exists between kids and their pets.  The child who demonstrates the highest level of knowledge about their pet and its care receives the Grand Prize Ribbon and all pets receive an award for something that makes them unique.  Mains speaks fondly of the judging, “We have children from toddlers to young adults participate every year.  I’ve had parents and their now grown up children come up to me years later and tell me how much fun it was to bring their pet!”

Ellie Barnett-Cashman with her Enoli, Alex

Ellie Barnett-Cashman with her Enoli, Alex.  Alex turns green when he is happy and is now playing “dead” in Ellie’s hands.


     The story of Seward Community is still being uncovered and recorded today by the Seward History Committee. They are in the process of writing a book about the neighborhood and invite people to share their memories of the King’s fair and Seward at the History tent. Visitors will also have the opportunity to test their historical knowledge by taking the Seward quiz, view old photographs of days gone by, and learn interesting facts about the neighborhood, including the first King’s fair.


2011 King's Fair

2011 King’s Fair: Celebrating Art and Diversity in Seward

Date: Saturday, September 17th, 2011

Time: noon – 5 pm

Location: Mathews Park: 1318 28th Ave. South Minneapolis (Seward neighborhood)


Here is the schedule of this Year’s King’s Fair Activities:


11:30 – 12:15 – Cadillac Kolstad

12:30 – 1:00 – Jerry Rau        

1:20 – 1:50 – Painted Saints              

2:10 – 2:55 – Fat Chance Jug Band   

3:15 – 4:00 – John Kolstad                

4:20 – 5:05 – Machinery Hill             


Other Stage Events:

1:00 – 1:20 Announcements and the Queen (Josie Winship)

1:50 – 2:10 Dans Askina Middle Eastern Dance Troupe (in front of stage)

2:55 – 3:15 Spoken Word

4:00 – 4:20 Cultural Fashion Show



  • Pet Judging** 1:30 – 3:00 (awards at 3pm)
  • Kid’s activities from Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Articulture, and others
  • Juggling
  • “Play in a Bag” Playwrights Center
  • Many Bike Activities including: adult’s bike skills class: 1:30, helmet fitting,  Kids Bike Rodeo: 3:30, Kid’s Ride: 4:00,  Citizen folding bike raffle by Seward Coop, and spin-art bicycle by Hub Bicycle Cooperative
  • Donation table to aid famine relief in Somalia.  Information from the American Relief Agency for the Horn of Africa (ARAHA) and the African Refugee Committee (ARC) will be provided with a volunteer to answer any questions.
  • Lots of tables featuring information and items for sale by a variety of local businesses, organizations, and artists


Life-sized Operation game by TC Maker

  • TC  Maker will be demonstrating example member projects and crafts, including a life-sized Operation game and mini trebuchet.



Hot Dogs by Magic Bus Café

Lemonade and scones by Pam Knutson Catering

Don’s Kitchen & Catering at the Whiskey Junction


**Pet Judging Rules:

1. All types and sizes of pets are welcome  

2.  Judging is based on the individual characteristics of the animals and the handler’s knowledge and ability to work with the pet.

3.  All pets should be restrained by leashes or some sort of container

4.  Handlers must remain with their pets at all times.

5.  Maximum age of the handler is 16 years.

6.  Parents may be present but are NOT allowed to participate.

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