County Fair

The annual Fayette County Fair was a huge event for many years prior to the 1950’s. The fairgrounds were located behind what is now the Board of Education.

There was always large participation not only in attendance but in competitive events. Each day of the week a different category was judged. One day was for flowers, another day for canned goods, another for baked items and so on. There was a large open shed at the southwest corner of the fairgrounds where animals, mostly cows and pigs entered by students who belonged to the Future Farmers of America, were judged. The Future Homemakers of America club also had projects that were displayed in the high school gymnasium which was at the north end of the fairgrounds. The gymnasium was headquarters for most of the judging. Every class in each school had a display. Civic clubs, churches, and some individuals also entered presentations to be judged. My dad always entered blooms from his dahlia garden, often winning a first prize ribbon. Because the high school’s basketball team took great pride in the condition of the gym’s hardwood floor, about six inches of wood shavings were used to cover and protect the floor.

The number and variety of rides and side shows seemed large to me as a child. Parents and teachers of the PTA ran a food stand just outside the gymnasium. They sold hot dogs, candy, cookies and other food items donated by businesses and citizens of the community. Mother always enjoyed working in the food stand. Although I was required to purchase my food from the PTA stand, the carnival food stands always smelled better with enticing odors of hot popcorn and fried onions. Around 11:00 PM there was a free trapeze act at the southeast corner. It lasted about 30 minutes signaling the end of the day’s events.

“School Day” at the fair was something all the boys and girls looked forward to. This was counted as a regular school day. We were marched to the courthouse square and lined up by grade facing the south courthouse steps. Then we were regrouped and assigned to certain teachers (I never understood why or how) before continuing to the fairgrounds. The gate was free to students and all rides and sideshows were only 5¢ each for the whole day. Parents of students were allowed in but had to pay the gate fee and rides were at the regular price for them. One year the carnival owners (during the first hour) did not lower the price for the rides. Mr. Defore, principal of the high school and superintendent of the whole school system, came to the fairgrounds. He was angry and after talking with the managers of the carnival announced that for the next two hours all rides would be free. I remember going with a dollar and coming home with change.