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Audience fills stands for 1998 motocross racing
Audience fills the stands for 1998 Town & Country Fair motocross racing events. Photo courtesy Washington Town & Country Fair

Washington Town & Country Fair

This fair, the third largest in Missouri, features big name entertainment, a large midway, tractor and truck pulls, livestock shows, and displays of artists and merchants. 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 is still part of the city park which is the location of the current 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 faces, 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 to 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 have raised as a 4-H or FFA project. A new area, "Agriland," gives fair patrons a close-up, hands-on exhibit area for viewing lambs, calves, mules, the hatching of baby chicks, and milking demonstrations. In addition to the traditional agricultural events, the fair offers bicycle races, motocross racing, "kart" races, truck and tractor pulls, many children's activities, and musical entertainment. In 1994 a parade was added; in 1996, a 5-mile/5K run; and in 1997, hot air balloon races were reprised.

In 1999, an estimated 95,000 people attended the five-day event. The Washington Town and Country Fair has become a major economic influence the community; all profits from the fair go back to the Washington Chamber of Commerce for use in the community, assisting industrial growth, tourism, scholarships, and various community projects. The project is documented with six pages of text, 29 8 x 10 color photographs with descriptions, a 1999 fair catalog, brochure, and 16-page newspaper supplement.

Originally submitted by: Kenny C. Hulshof, Representative (9th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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