A Loyalty Week event was held in North Dakota during the first week of July in 1918. It was sponsored by the North Dakota Council of Defense and the North Dakota Commission of Agriculture.
3,000 people descended on Bismarck for the opening festivities that included a Monster Aquatic Spectacle starring Miss Bertha Dragoo, “a pretty diving girl.” An evening illumination of the city was to be accompanied by a band concert and a street dance.
Another Loyalty Week event was the Dakota Tractor Show. It was billed as “the greatest exhibition of agricultural machinery in the history of the state.” Organizers anticipated that 35,000 farmers would attend, plus a considerable number of interested spectators. On this date the show began in the morning with a demonstration of twenty-one tractors. Some of the tractors, like International Harvester and Case, are still familiar to us today. Other less familiar machines included Fordson, Avery, and Happy Farmer. A serious plowing competition was scheduled for the afternoon on land described as “dry as a bone and as tough as leather, presenting every difficulty which will be encountered on the average farm.”
Loyalty Week continued with a Fourth of July extravaganza that was scheduled to start with patriotic speeches at the Capitol grounds featuring Corporal Smith of General Pershing’s staff. On furlough from the Army, Smith had served in France and would tell the audience about his experiences. It was noted that the grounds provided ample shade, a pleasant spot on a hot day. Corporal Smith, who had given 500 speeches upon returning to the states, was billed as having a fine voice which would allow everyone in the audience to hear him.
The speeches would be followed by a gigantic parade including bands, trade unions, war workers, farmers, fraternal organizations, Steele’s Cavalry, decorated wagons, fine horses, and school children who would form the American flag and sing as they marched. Following the parade, Corporal Smith would introduce the movie Pershing’s Crusaders. The day would be capped off with a band concert and street dance.
Saturday would feature a meeting of Councils of Defense from across the state, and the week’s festivities would end with more band concerts and a street dance.
Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher
Bismarck Tribune. “Pershing Soldier to Make Principal Fourth of July Address at Capitol Park.” Bismarck ND. 3 July 1918. Page 1.
Bismarck Tribune. “Old General Gloom Never Won a Battle – Cheer Up!” Bismarck ND. 26 June 1918. Page 2. “Keep His Knapsack Full.” Page 8.
Bismarck Tribune. “3,000 People See Opener at Tractor Field.” Bismarck ND. 3 July 1918. Page 1.