One of the founding partners of Mayo Clinic was also an agricultural enthusiast who donated the land used for the Olmsted County Fair.
Dr. Christopher Graham was an avid supporter of agricultural education and supporter of the county fair. Graham and his wife, Blanche Brackenridge Graham, built a race track and event building, which they leased for free to the Agricultural Association starting in 1910. It cost the couple $10,000 to build the structures, according to a report by Blue Planet Museum Consulting.
On Oct. 22, 1919, the Graham family donated the land to Olmsted County to be the permanent home of the Olmsted County Fair. The fairgrounds were named Graham Field in 1919 to honor the family's donation. The grounds were eventually renamed Graham Park.
Graham said that the fair provided an important opportunity for farmers to meet with other framers and experts to learn and exchange ideas.
To honor the 100th anniversary of the donation, banners detailing Graham's involvement in agriculture and the county fair will be displayed throughout the fairgrounds. The fair begins Saturday.
Additionally, family day at the fair will be called Dr. Graham Family Day to honor Graham's dedication to the fair. Events during the day will include a scavenger hunt, K-9 demonstrations and a pedal tractor pull.
Graham grew up on a farm in Kalmar Township where he developed a love for agriculture and learned the challenges faced by farmers.
During his childhood, Graham was able to go to school only four months out of the year because of his farm work. It took him nine years to graduate from college, after which he attended more schooling to become a veterinarian. After becoming a veterinarian, Dr. Charles Mayo, Graham's brother-in-law, encouraged him to go to school for an additional year to become a physician.
Graham worked at Mayo Clinic for 25 years, but he refused to accept the Mayo Brothers' updated terms for the partnership, according to an article by Sean Kettelkamp.
After Graham's departure in 1919, his Grahamholm Farm became his main focus. Graham went on to build a very successful, nationally ranked farm where he raised poultry, cattle and horses.
One of Graham's cows produced a world record amount of milk and butter, and his other farm, Brackenfield Farm, became the second-largest Orpington poultry farm in the nation in 1910.
Graham remained an active attendee of the fair for the rest of his life. A very popular attraction to the fair was the competition between Graham's dairy herds and Dr. Charlie Mayo's herd, according to Blue Planet Museum Consulting's report.
Graham died in 1952 after 33 years of farming in the Rochester area.
Graham's legacy in Rochester is not limited to the fairgrounds, he also donated the land used for Soldier's Field. The land was given to the American Legion to recognize the soldiers who died in World War One, according to Kettelkamp's article.