West Tennessee Fair
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In 1855 Robert H. Cartmell was instrumental in organizing the first Agricultural and Mechanical Fair. He was concerned that farmers needed more knowledge to diversify by rotating crops,
deep plowing ,ditching ,terracing and other modern practices.
The fair was held Oct. 23-26 1855. The first fair had over 6000 participants and was held one mile west of the courthouse on 30 acres in the S. Fairground Street area.
The barns were constructed in 1857 along with grandstands, a race track, an amusement area, and cook tents. Can you imagine the horse races, mule wagon pulls ,harness races, fireworks, and of course politicians on their soap boxes. As the conflict approached the military recruitment and military drills.
In 1861 the Civil War had began and the fair was discontinued.
The grounds was used first for the Confederate troops then for various other units. The area became known as Camp Beauregard the name first appeared in the local newspaper of the era.
In 1871 the first fair was organized by a for profit group “West Tennessee Agricultural and Mechanical Fair Association”.
Durning 1870-1890 they followed the agricultural theme along with immigration to the area. The growth of the railroads, inexpensive land and job opportunities as sharecroppers.
Clifiton and Sarah Dancy in 1891 sold 86.15 ac. for 4304.50 to the Fair Association. The land was located between Magnolia St and the Forked Deer River.
By 1895 the Fair Association went broke. At this time we know as I have written about before Samuel Lancaster created the beautiful Lancaster Park.
So let’s fact forward to 1906 as the Fair Association reorganized. By October 1908 the fair was back opened boasting the best race track in the area”fit for horses, mules harness and even automobiles”.
In 1912 land was purchased an area was set up for the West Tennessee Colored Agricultural and Mechanical Fair. Both fairs were held in October but not on the same weeks.
In 1919 the name was changed to West Tennessee District Fair Association. For the next 10 years the fair grew and more and more people attended the fair. Then that night in 1929 flames and smoke could be seen for miles. The fairgrounds was on fire al the barns, grandstands, cook shacks all gone.
It took awhile to rebuild but the financial woes continued. Years 1932-1939 were really bad but the Association kept plugging away to recover . In May 1940 the U.S.7th Cavalry Brigade bivouacked at the Fairgrounds.
The 34th Fair in 1941 was boasted as one of the finest ever the War exploded the Fair was shut down from1942-1946. In
1946 the went through a serious remodeling . Sept. 9,1946 the fair opened to celebrate the boys coming home and to having fun again.
In 1965 the 110th Fair had a new name and was beginning to show wear but it continued to open every year. Now the fairgrounds held events like tractor pulls, demolition derby, concerts, and was even the site of scenes for the movie Walking Tall.
In 1990 the Fairgrounds underwent a major face lift. Now the area covers 75 acres boast a large air conditioned exhibit hall,
2 open air pavilions approximately 50,000 sq ft display area, a 2000 seat grandstand ,lakes, a paved track, grassy areas.
In other words Jackson and Madison County have a Fairground that we can take pride in sharing with West Tennessee.
Thousands of people have visited the Fair over the years and this year will be no different
Come visit this year
September 14 – 19 2021 the West Tennessee State Fair celebrates “River to River: A Bicentennial Journey.