A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE
The early history of the Summit County Fair is best described in a book by Karl H. Grismer,
“Another thing which stimulated trade was the Summit County Fair, held each autumn after farmers had harvested their crops and had money in their pockets. The fairs were not held in
“The Society was organized
“At this meeting, the county commissioners loosened up the county’s purse strings and promised to donate $137.50 each year for the fair’s support. They also gave the society permission to hold the first fairs on the courthouse grounds”.
“During the following year the officials and managers worked tirelessly to arouse interest throughout the county and raised money through sales of $1 memberships to assure an alluring list of prizes, ranging from 50 cents to as high as $8 for the best cattle and horses. Altogether the prizes totaled $100”.
“At last, the big day’s come – Wednesday and Thursday, October 2 and 3, 1850, and into
“In the bovine and equine display were a team of 34 yoke of oxen and another 15 span of horses, both from
“The most popular feature of the fair was a series of plowing contests held on the commons just east of the jail. (This was before the cut was made through that section of town for the branch railroad to
“Such a huge crowd attended the second fair, held October 16 and 17, 1851, that the need for larger grounds was plainly shown. Colonel Perkins then granted the society free use of a six-acre tract on S. Main opposite the present B.F. Goodrich office building. The grounds could not be improved in time for the 1852 fair, however, and it, too, was held on the courthouse grounds”.
“During the following summer the
“By that time, the Summit County Fair had become the leading fair in northern
“Said Editor Ahsel Lewis of the Summit County Beacon in 1858; ‘Beyond a doubt the county fair is of inestimable value in
“During the fair week every hotel and rooming house in town was filled up to capacity and many private homes took in guests. Livery stables did a rushing business and stores were crowded. Almost all the visitors had money to spend and when they spend it, the whole town benefited”.
“Crowds had become so large by 1858 that the need for larger grounds became imperative. Perkins offered to sell most of the land where the Goodrich factories now stand for $80 an acre. But the fair officials dilly-dallied and by the time they were ready to make a decision Perkins had sold the land to other parties”.
“David L. King, son of Judge Leicester King, then came to the rescue and leased to the society for five years a splendid 35 acre tract on the hill between
Note: “When the society’s five year lease on Summit Grove expired in 1864, King offered to sell the grounds to the society for $5,000. The directors of the organization considered the price to high and leased for five years a 30-acre tract at S. Maple and Balch from P.D. Hall. Fairs were held at that location until 1875. In that year the society purchased from the Austin Powder Company a 45-acre tract known as the powder patch in the Little Cuyahoga Valley. For this tract the society paid $5,000 in cash and a 30-acre farm west of
From this point until 1956, fairs were held in various locations;
Although the Summit County Agricultural Society dissolved in 1928, the Summit County Fair continued to be held. In 1957, the Summit County Agricultural Society was re-organized under the leadership of President, Charles Call. The Society’s main purpose was to promote the
From day one, many proud, hard working, dedicated volunteers have put in their time and efforts towards building and beautifying the grounds. By 1970, the Summit County Fair was labeled “The Biggest Little Fair in
In 1975, “Junior” was dropped from the name and the Society once again became the Summit County Fair. Open class competition was added which took a big step in the family orientation of the fair.
The fair quickly outgrew the original 5-acre plot and in 1979, 30 additional acres had been added. The Society now owned 12 buildings, two show rings and a new grandstand. With the addition of the grandstand, events such as demolition derbies, truck & tractor pulls, concerts, rodeos and motocross competition was added to the fair.
In 1982, the Board of Directors implemented a “pay one price” admission. This was a successful move for the Society in trying to keep the fair as a family oriented event. Not only does the fair educate and provide fun for all, it is affordable as well.
Currently, the Society uses the 30 buildings during the 6-day fair to showcase 4-H and open class exhibits in livestock, horticulture, floraculture, domestic arts, culinary arts and fine arts.
The success and hard work of the many volunteers over the past 47 years is clearly shown in the improvements and additions to the fairgrounds.
The Virginia O’Casek Building serves as the Administration Building; housing the fair office, a kitchen, and a beautifully remodeled reception hall that is used for meetings, wedding receptions, and many other special events.
The Arena Complex opened in February, 1994. The 68,000 square foot, multi-use facility is rented year round for events such as indoor motocross races, horse shows, craft shows and dog shows. During the fair, the arena houses the 4-H booth exhibits, entertainment and commercial booths.
As we look to the next century and continue working towards being a “state of the art” facility, we are dedicated to the idea of educating and keeping our agricultural roots alive. We are proud of our past and will continue to strive into the future.