The Fayette County Fair had its beginnings on the O.W. Rittenhouse and Edward Higbee farms. Called ‘Field Days’, the events were sponsored by a group of progressive farmers, who were first organized by PSU County Agricultural Extension Agent Rex Carter. In May 1955, the group became the Fayette County Agricultural Improvement Agency.
Later, in 1957, two Fayette County Commissioners, G. Emerson Work and J. Lewis Williams, decided to buy a sizeable piece of land in Dunbar Township—the current site of the Fayette County Fair. In 1958, the first fair was held at this location. The five day fair offered free parking, as well as the now standard shows and displays. The first carnival to come to the fair was provided by Frankie’s Amusements of Washington, PA, and featured amusement rides and games.
Besides an interest in their projects, generous premium payments also encouraged exhibitors to become involved in the Fayette County Fair. The premiums distributed at the first fair totaled $500; today’s Fayette County Fair pays over $38,000 worth of premiums each year. In 1962, 4-H leaders, lead by County Agent John Creighton, held the fair’s first Junior Livestock Auction. That Auction sold a total of 13 steers; today’s Auction sells over 300 steers, pigs, sheep and goats with a total sale value over $199,000.
Entertainment has also changed. While the fair’s first well-known professional entertainer was Jo Ann Castle from the Lawrence Welk Show, today the fair boasts a variety of contests, music acts, and thrill shows. Entertainers of all kinds found a good start and an encouraging audience at the Fayette County Fair.
The expansion of the fair also signaled a need for more workers. At the first fair, only two secretaries were needed to complete all of the paperwork. Today’s fair demands much more attention, to the tune of approximately 300 volunteers, nearly 100 volunteer committee members, and a 13 person volunteer Board of Directors.
Lastly, with a total attendance of nearly 100,000 people, our fair ranks as one of the largest fairs in Pennsylvania. Come and enjoy the many quality events held here at the Fayette County Fair.