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   A little History:  
 
  The Marquette Agricultural Society held its first fair on October 16th, 1872. It was an unqualified success and there was never any doubt about its continuance. Portage had a population of 300 at that time with stage coach service to Winnipeg and was beginning to feel its importance as a new centre of activity in the Dominion of Canada, which was 5 years old. It was mainly due to the efforts of Kenneth McKenzie, the first president and a varied exhibitor that the fair was held

The name of the fair board changed to Portage and Lakeside Agricultural Society and then on February 13th, 1907 the Portage Industrial Exhibition was set up as a shareholder company with one thousand shares.


The land was gifted to the Portagex for use of the coming generations. The most striking feature of the Portagex is it's location next to Island Park and it ranks among the most attractive fair settings in Canada.

The fair was the result of an expressed interest in the agricultural community. In 1923 it became a Western Canada Fair which included a midway and platform attractions. It soon became a family event, the highlight of the year. Exhibitors camped in tents, groomed themselves as best they could in cold water from the pump. Livestock was groomed and washed, stalls were decorated attractively and no one thought of going to the fair without walking through the barns and carefully viewing every entry in the exhibition hall. Machinery displays were extensive and Harness Racing was a regular feature at the fair.

With less labor available, machinery companies beginning to host field days and escalating transportation costs, many exhibitors and companies have chosen to limit their involvement to the larger A Class Fairs. The present-day Board of Directors is doing its best to deal with these changing factors. The capable people in our agricultural community realize that the story of agriculture must be presented by those who know for the understanding and support of urban residents who do not know what farm life is like today. 4H groups are excellent educational promotions as are Agriculture in the Classroom programs. Fairs promote programs on ecology and economy in agriculture that help to get our message out.

The contrast between that far distant first fair and the present makes interesting study. In most phases of its operation the routine has changed very little. For over 135 years the Portagex has consistently presented a high standard of programs designed for:

   A. The promotion and improvement of the livestock industry.

    B. The demonstration of handicrafts of home cooking and needle work.

    C. The display of industrial products.

    D. The promotion of the arts and other cultural pursuits.

Throughout the years Portagex has lost barns and exhibition buildings and a grandstand to fire, and exhibition building to a cyclone and many exhibitors to present day economic reality. We have rebuilt and continued to look to the future as evidenced by our addition of new office and washroom facilities. Portagex is growing forward in the new millennium.