Before the Lawrence County Farm Show, Inc. (DBA Lawrence County Fair) the 4-H Extension Agents, Vo-Ag and FFA Advisors arranged for project round ups every summer as a place where the 4-H and FFA members could show their livestock projects. Funding was through donations from private individuals, businesses and the Pomona Grange.
After the Show in 1953, it was proposed to establish a permanent Farm Show in Lawrence County. Lew Dayton, Cooperative Extension Director and Grange member, brought the proposal before Pomona Grange and they agreed to fund the activity. The first farm show was held at the J.R. Rick Stock Farm (site of the defunct New Castle Fair) as a two day fair in August 1954. There were 64 exhibitors and receipts of $237.50, expenses $292.39 and premiums paid were $192.00. The Pomona Grange picked up the tab. The Current budget is nearly $600,000 with $46,000.00 paid for premiums.
Lew Dayton approached the Lawrence County Commissioners asking them for some financial assistance and was told that if they incorporated as a farm show or exhibition, the Lawrence County Commissioners could help with the funding. Commissioners at the time were Joseph Gilmore, Merle Ingham and Ed McConahy.
The Grange passed a resolution to incorporate and on the 20th of April, 1955, the Lawrence County Farm Show was incorporated as “A non-profit corporation, its purpose is to conduct annual exhibits of farm and home products, poultry, livestock, farm machinery and allied equipment and other products, along with agricultural and home making educational activities for the betterment of agriculture and the community.”
The Incorporators were George F. Bolinger, Francis Boak, Joseph H. Daugherty, Robert Hohmand and George B. Raney, who were the first board of directors. The first elected board of directors were W.R. Stoner, H.L. McCurley, Glen Patterson, James Longwell, R.S. Johnson, W.W. Hartwell, Pearson Furst, and James Cochran.
The Farm Show continued to be a two day event held at the J.R. Rick Farm and grew in exhibition numbers and attendance to become a three day, then a four day fair. The Fair Board realized they needed a permanent home and the Rick Farm was not for sale. As luck would have it, a nearly level 96 acre tract of land on Route 108 across from Laurel High School became available and in 1966, the Enos Farm became the permanent Lawrence County Fairgrounds for $25,000. The show was held in tents on the new property on August 16 – 19th, 1966.
At 70 years of age, the Lawrence County Fair is a young fair, but a growing fair. From the original 65 exhibitors for 2 days, the fair has grown to a six day event in 2003. The key to its success is the dedication of the board of directors and their interest in promoting the county’s youth by providing exhibit space and premiums for many youth classes throughout the fair. Ever mindful that today’s leaders are yesterday’s 4-H an FFA members. The current board serves without pay and consists of 18 members. They have endeavored to make permanent improvements and to build exhibit buildings that can be for functions other than the fair.
In 2023, we continue to have Good Things Growing!!