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Point of Interest

Eastern Michigan State Fair

A scene on the midway in 1909

Eastern Michigan State Fair – 1895
195 Midway Street

In 1895 the Imlay City Driving Club was formed and a track was leveled off for buggy races. A year later the Imlay City Agricultural Society was formed. The first Society-sponsored fair occurred on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, October 7-9, 1896. The Agricultural Society included Lapeer, Oakland, Macomb and St. Clair counties. The south half of the current fairgrounds had been purchased for $1,000. Admission to the first fair was 25 cents and it was all horses and buggies.
The inaugural Fair Board officers were T. B. Keyworth, president; Nelson Haskin, vice president; William Swan, secretary; and D. S. Marshall, treasurer. Directors serving a one-year term were William Sleeman, Will Elliott and J. P. Egglestone. Serving two-year directorships were Issac Willis, George Jones, M. J. Haskin, Jim Sheppard, Fred Pennington, N. W. Stock and D. V. Yerex.
During the years 1919-1921, the fair grew due to the arrival of the Royal Oak Booster Club who chartered trolley cars on the Interurban line from Detroit. On a daily basis, three or four trolleys holding 50 people each were brought to the fair. At that time the midway was in the middle of a racetrack. A “Bowery” (dance hall) was also on the midway. The fair included a baseball field, a duck pond, chickens, and rabbits and in the southwest corner of the grounds were the horse, cattle and sheep barns and pigpens.
In 1933, the Lapeer County Agricultural Society was chartered by the state and operated as the Lapeer County Fair. In 1951 the Lapeer County Fair was renamed by the State Fair Board as the Eastern Michigan Fair. In 2012 the Eastern Michigan Fair was renamed and is now known as the Eastern Michigan State Fair.

Historical Marker

Historical Marker
Depot Drive next to the Museum

The plaque highlights the founders of Imlay City and the importance of the railroad to the region.

Imlay City Historical Museum

Imlay City Historical Museum
77 Main Street

The coming of the railroad in 1870 was pivotal to Imlay City’s founding and economic progression.  Imlay City’s original wooden depot was built in 1870 for the Port Huron and Lake Michigan Railroad, and contained separate waiting rooms for men and women.  The PH&LM Railroad, later known as the Chicago & Grand Trunk, was then in 1887 known as the Grand Trunk Railroad (GT).  From 1928 the railroad was known as the GTW (Western) and operated until 1987.  Since that time is has been operated by the Canadian National Railway system, which dots the southern Lower Peninsula landscape.

Early in 1872 passenger traffic at this station was reported as 4,000 tickets being sold from Port Huron to Imlay City  There were as many as four eastbound and four westbound trains daily.  After a fire in 1917, the original depot’s partial ruins were used for ten years until a new depot, a sturdy brick structure, was built in 1927by the Ellington Miller Company of Chicago at a cost of $11,667.  Passenger trains made regular stops in Imlay City for 101 years ending in 1971.  The depot was then used for storage by GTW.

The depot sat vacant for a few years until 1976 when the City of Imlay City began negotiations with GTW and obtained a 99-year lease on the building and property.  The City in turn leased the building to the Imlay City Historical Commission for use as a museum in 1978, with all restoration and repairs performed by volunteers.  In 1988 the City reached an agreement with GTW to purchase the building and property for $5,000.  Today the lease continues with the Imlay City Historical Commission for use as a public museum.

 

The depot is listed on the State Register of Historical Sites

Train Viewing Platform

Train Viewing Platform
Depot Drive

In 2012, with the generous support of the Four County Community Foundation and the Lapeer County Community Foundation, the Imlay City Downtown Development Authority organized the building of a train viewing platform on Depot Drive.  The platform acts as a reminder of the tremendous importance of the railroad to Imlay City’s founding, growth, and future.  Today, train enthusiast of all ages love to sit and watch the trains go by.

Vlasic

Vlasic
415 South Blacks Corners Road

In April of 1947 Patzer Food Company announced they were expanding their facilities at the Imlay City plant.  James Kenney, manger of the plant, reported that the Otter Lake facilities of the company (used mainly for production of sauerkraut) had been moved to Imlay City.  The plant would now make both pickles and sauerkraut.

Twenty-eight new, large tanks were installed for the making of sauerkraut and contracts were let with farmers for cabbage acreage.  In addition they contracted with farmers for about 500 acres of cucumbers which supplied receiving stations of the company located at Kingston, Deford and Hemans, in addition to Imlay City.  The cucumbers were all processed at the Imlay City plant.  In 1945 Patzer had an 80 by 120 foot building for receiving cucumbers, and was constructing another of the same size.  In 1946 they constructed an additional building 80 by 300 feet to be used exclusively for packaging of product.  They were employing 25 employees, with plans to add more.

The pickle empire really began in Imlay City when Joseph Vlasic bought the Patzer Food Products Company in 1957 and two years later created Vlasic Foods.

Joseph Vlasic retired in the 1960’s and his son, Robert, took over direction of the company, which was sold to the Campbell Soup Company in 1978 for $33 million.

The plant has expanded to 10 times from its original size.  The Imlay City facility encompasses more than 457,000 square feet and spans 190 acres.  The company employs 850 people during its peak season.

In 2017 the company “America’s #1 Pickle” and marked its 75th year.  Vlasic pickles are now distributed throughout the United States and Canada, as are a variety of other products offered under the brand.  The Vlasic brand currently (2019) is owned by Conagra Brands.

 

Thursdays
1:00 PM-6:00 PM
May- October
Corner of Third & Main Streets

Tuesdays
7:00 PM
June-August
Lamb Steele Park

Saturday
September 28, 2019
6:00 PM- 10:00 PM
Downtown Imlay City

November 30, 2018
6:00 PM
Downtown Imlay City

Imlay City DDA

150 North Main Street

Imlay City, MI 48444

8:00 AM- 4:30 PM

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