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David Rogers Fair brings pioneer work and play to life

The David Rogers Country Fair is returning on Saturday, Aug. 23, and will give those attending the chance to step back in time to the mid-1800s in LaGrange County. The event will be held at David Rogers County Park on CR 550S west of CR 200E and starts at noon.

New this year is a trading post. But instead of being able to buy stuff at the post, kids will have the opportunity to earn credits to be able to get items from the post. “This will show how the pioneers did things,” noted LaGrange County Naturalist Scott Beam. The activities will help cultivate the idea of helpfulness and being industrial, he added.

Kids will earn credits through participating in the crafts and games throughout the fair, but also some “chores” that need to be done. They will be able to get credits by sweeping cabins, helping to plant a garden, make candles or move firewood. “It ties together work and play,” Beam stated.

There will also be a watermelon eating contest this year in the kids’ area during the afternoon.

A popular addition last year was the pie eating contest, which will return this year. It will begin at 5 p.m. at the main stage.

Favorite entertainers Sly Run and Liza and Mark Woolever will return with their music on the main stage.

In the kids’ area, Faire Wynds Entertainers will bring their humor and magic back to the fair, along with Virginia’s Vermin Flea Circus.

Punch and Judy will also be back for two shows throughout the afternoon in the kids’ area.

A folk dance will start 6:30 p.m. with music provided by Liza and Mark and caller Eddie Grogan.

Dr. David Rogers

Dr. David Rogers was a land speculator, herb doctor, and philanthropist. His reputation was of a generous healer.

He came to LaGrange County from Wayne County, N.Y. in 1833, just after land opened up for sale. He deliberately chose various land sections throughout the great hawpatch. His land purchases added up to 1,500 acres. Settlers were arriving so fast, Dr. Rogers sold most of his land in two years. Sometimes he would even buy back and resell land after residents decided to move further west.

Local folklore mentions Dr. Rogers traveling with his ox team and harvesting wild herbs. The herbs were then dried, packed in barrels, and shipped back to doctors in the east who used them for medicine. For his own medical work, his reputation was for generosity. Rogers would not charge for medical care to those who might not be able to afford it.

Residents of LaGrange County were served for many years by the eccentric doctor who lived alone and traveled often. Upon Dr. Rogers' death in 1871, his estate was bequeathed to the commissioners of LaGrange County to build an orphanage. He asserted that his estate be used to provide a home for the "orphaned, poor and other indigent children." Although his will was contested by a nephew, the will stood and the orphanage, the large brick house to the north of the park, was built.

The Rogers Children's Home no longer cares for youth. However, the Rogers Children's Fund still serves area youth over 140 years after Dr. Rogers’ death. David Rogers Memorial Park is part of the original Rogers land purchase and became the first LaGrange County Park. The inscription on his monument, at the high point of the park, reads "He was the friend of the invalid, gave medicine without money and without price." Here we honor Dr. Rogers’ caring and pioneering spirit.

(Biography courtesy of LaGrange County Parks.)