State and county fairs hold a unique position in modern society. With deep ties to farming, ranching and America’s agriculture background, visiting a modern fair provides a connection to the past.
With a rich history dating as far back as the early 1800s, fairs began as an opportunity for rural families to share the latest agricultural techniques, equipment, crops and livestock. It didn’t take long before regional fairs began incorporating a wide variety of social and educational activities. Within a few decades, state and county fairs became destinations to celebrate human progress: technology, animal sciences, education and more.In the early days of fairs, funding was provided by local ranchers and businesspeople. Beginning in 1840 state legislatures across the country began forming agricultural boards and allocating funds for state and county fairs. The first state fair, in Syracuse, New York, in 1841, attracted more than 15,000 people. Before long all the states in the union followed suit and began funding their own local fairs. The Jackson County Fair was founded in 1859.
Fairs became the summer highlight for local residents—a chance to show off the year’s crops, livestock and projects. For most people it was also a chance to see the latest inventions, such as airplanes, electric lights, washing machines and more. The fair was the place to be amazed. Families made sure they had time off from work during the fair so that they could socialize and see all the exhibits. The addition of horse racing added to the excitement.Today you can still find livestock and quilting projects at the county fair, but you’ll also find heart-racing rides, arcade games, exhibition halls of merchandise, top musical acts, petting zoos, traditional fair food and, of course, 4-H and FFA projects. The Jackson County Fair is still a place where families can enjoy one another’s company while taking in the sights and living a bit of Rogue Valley history.