No August without fair
It’s difficult to imagine an August without the Washington County Fair, so rooted it has become in our local culture. But in its long history, the fair has seen its popularity wax and wane and its location hop around.
The first official fair was held in 1822, according to the website of the Washington County Agricultural Fair and Expo Center. In that year, officers of the Washington County Society for the Promotion of Agricultural and Domestic Manufactures approved an exhibition to be held on “Wednesday of the Supreme Court in each year.”
The first fair was held on a lot at the corner of East Maiden and South Lincoln streets in Washington.
There were stretches of years when no fair was held, but interest intensified in the middle of the 19th century. In 1866, the crowd at the fair, then held where Washington & Jefferson College’s stadium is now, were enthralled by the launch of a hot-air balloon, which landed on a farm nine miles away.
In 1885, the fair moved to Tylerdale, and then to its present location in Arden in 1911.
For at least the last two generations, the date of the fair has been in mid-August, almost always the same week as the Pony League World Series. Their resumption each year defines tradition.
Wednesday was a special day – the only day – of the first official Washington County Fair, and it has become a special night in recent years. The fair’s largest crowd is expected tonight for the annual battle of the high school bands and the school bus demolition derby – the smashing conclusion of the evening.
There’s much more on Wednesday, including a 4-H modeling competition at 10 a.m.; cheerleading competition at 4 p.m. and market lambs at 5 p.m.
It’s a great day to visit the fair. It’s what being in Washington County in August is all about.