The biggest thing in my town right now is fair excitement. The Washington Town and Country Fair, is consistently one of the three largest fairs in Missouri. It features big name entertainment, a large midway, tractor and truck pulls, livestock shows, and displays of artists and merchants. Every where is town you will see preparations for the big event.
In the past several years, over 95,000 people have attended the five-day event. The Washington Town and Country Fair has become a major economic influence in the community; all profits go back to the Washington Chamber of Commerce for use in the community, assisting industrial growth, tourism, scholarships, and various community projects.
Because of the number of visitors that come to town to attend the event, many of the large parking lots at area schools and churches are turned into pick up stations for the shuttle buses that run constantly moving fair goers to and from the fair. many vacant lots are turned into either more parking or RV camp sites. Town residents will turn their homes into temporary Bed and Breakfast to accommodate the need for lodgings of the fair goers. Every motel within twenty mies is booked solid. exhibitors camp with their livestock or spread a sleeping bag under their exhibitions tables in the arts and crafts tents. All the restaurants and local businesses will have extended hours to accommodate the fair goers. There is hardly a resident not affected in some way by the fair. This town swells with out of town visitors and it changes the entire personality of the town during fair week. The hustle and bustle of activities taken on by every charity, church group, civic organization and youth group has almost every person in town involved in some way.
The Fair originated in 1872 as the Franklin County Agricultural and Mechanical Society Fair. The original 14 acres purchased by the Society for its fair are still part of the city park which is the location of the fair. In its first year, an amphitheater, art hall, and a circular race track were built. Events for that first fair included horse racing, the display of farm and industry products, a fine arts and handiwork exhibit, bicycle races, barbecue, band music, foot races, and greased-pig chasing. For a few years, there were balloon ascensions -- some pilots landed in the nearby Missouri River, giving the participants quite a dousing, and the spectators some extra excitement. In 1917, the Franklin County Agricultural and Mechanical Society Fair passed a resolution to discontinue the fair. It was felt that it was passé, and young people were not interested, especially since the automobile had begun to replace the horse, once a main component of the agricultural fair.
In 1929, the fair was revived under the name Franklin County Agricultural Products Show. It has continued annually since that time, once again providing recreation, amusement, and exhibition for the public. The fair, now five days long, still features fine arts and handiwork, agricultural products and exhibits, as well as having one of the largest livestock shows in the area. A highlight is the auction where area youth can sell animals they raised as a 4-H or FFA project. Another area, "Agriland," gives fair patrons a close-up, hands-on exhibit area for such things as viewing lambs, calves, mules, the hatching of baby chicks, and milking demonstrations. In addition to the traditional agricultural events, the fair offers motocross racing, sprint car races, truck and tractor pulls, many children's activities, and musical entertainment. In 1994 a parade was added; and in 1996, a 5-mile/5K run. And of course we have all the lovely young ladies in town competing for the title of "Fair Queen."
Unforginitly, a last minute emergency of a elderly neighbor had us going to the hospital instead of the parade yesterday. I heard that it was one of the largest and finest in recent years. So I missed out on the parade photos this year. Attached are some shots I have taken at the fair grounds. Those of the main stage area being set up for the concerts is being done by local boy scouts. Then there are some of the exhibit tents. Next week I will have more of the actual fair in action.
Be sure you click the photos to enlarge for better details.
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