Clock Tower

Out of the Clock Tower



Hello and welcome to the Greene County Archives' blog, "Out of the Clock Tower".  Please join us as we share information on archival issues, news, special events, and highlights from our collection.

Before the archives program began in Greene County in 1996, permanent records were stored in every conceivable space, in basements, garages, and closets. Usually they were in boxes of various shapes and sizes, although seldom adequately labeled, but occasionally they were just in loose piles of books and papers. Most notable were the old records stuffed into the clock tower of the County Courthouse, where they shared their home with pigeon droppings.

Now, there is a clean, environmentally controlled, well appointed location for the county archives, where our historical records are housed in standard sized boxes on steel shelves. We have taken note of their journey in the name for our blog.

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Jul 27

The Greene County Agricultural Society: The Making of the Greene County Fair

Posted on July 27, 2018 at 8:15 AM by Melissa Dalton

The Greene County Fair is upon us! The fair is slated to begin on Sunday, July 29th and will run through Saturday, August 4th. This week, I thought we could learn a bit of the history of the fair, and show everyone some neat little historical fair items we have here in the Archives.

Did you know that this year marks the 179th Annual Greene County Fair? Did you also know that it is said to be the “oldest fair west of the Alleghenies”? Now that’s something that should grab your attention! So, let’s start at the beginning…

The Greene County Agricultural Society was established in 1834, but the first meetings to discuss the formation began in 1833 when the Commissioners made mention of “organizing an Agricultural Society” at a board meeting (Fig 1). The first fair on record was held in 1839 around the Courthouse Square. The fair was a huge success, and the following year, the location was moved to Columbus Pike to accommodate the size and growth of the event. It was at this location that the fair remained for several years, and in 1852, the Agricultural Society acquired the property from Elizabeth Williams. Washington Galloway did a survey of the trotting track (Fig 2), and even notated a trip to the 1858 fair in his fieldbook (Fig 3)!

Greene County Commissioners Journal Vol 5, pg 247 (JPG)
Fig 1. Excerpt from the Greene County Commissioners Journal Vol. 5, pg. 247 (Greene County Archives)

1860 Survey of Trotting Track at Fairgrounds (JPG)
Fig 2. 1860 Survey by Galloway of trotting track (Greene County Archives)

Galloway recalls trip to Greene County Fair in 1858 (JPG)
Fig 3. Galloway notates trip to 1858 Fair in Fieldbook 7, pg. 25 (Greene County Archives)

The Fair continued to draw appeal from residents and witnessed steady growth, and in 1867, it was determined that the location must be moved. A site was chosen in Xenia, but a faction from Jamestown was quite unhappy with the selection, claiming it was too far for them to travel to bring their livestock and goods. They established their own society, the Union Agricultural Society, and began holding their own fair, providing Greene County residents two separate fairs each year. However, in 1884, a tornado struck Jamestown, causing the Union Agricultural Society’s fair to close permanently.

The Greene County Agricultural Society purchased just under 40 acres for the fairgrounds (Fig 4), but the site was later sold to Eli Millen, at which time he began leasing the land to the Society. Upon his death, the land was transferred back to the Society, including approximately 10 additional acres. It is here where the fair has remained.

1867 Stock Certificate for Greene County Agricultural Society (JPG)
Fig 4. Shares were sold to maintain the fairgrounds (Greene County Archives)

The entertainment and programs of the fair haven’t changed too much over the years. Pulling contests, horse racing, produce, displays of handiwork, craftsmanship, and artisanship, all have been around since the beginning. To provide proper viewing and displaying of these events and programs, several buildings and a grandstand were erected (Figs 5 & 6).

Miscellaneous news articles reporting Fair revenue in the 1940s (JPG)
Fig 5. Various articles from the 1940s about Fair revenue (Greene County Archives)

Various Greene County Fair Ribbons (JPG)
Fig 6. Ribbons from various events and programs (Greene County Archives)


There have been only a couple times the fair almost shutdown, which would have ended its streak as one of the oldest fairs – in 1943 due to World War II and in 2001 after a tornado devastated the site. However, the Fair Board overcame both obstacles. In 1943, the Board decided the fair must continue and to “make this the best Greene County Fair on record” (Figs 7 & 8). In 2000, a tornado struck the fairgrounds, destroying several buildings and trees on the site. Due to hard work and dedication of the Board of Directors, the grounds were rebuilt and ready for the 2001 fair season!

Headline about the Fair in the Xenia Gazette, dated July 31, 1943 (JPG)Article about 104th Anniversary of the Fair in the Xenia Gazette, dated July 31, 1943 (JPG)
Fig 7. Headline and article about the 1943 Fair in the Xenia Gazette, dated July 31, 1943 (Greene County Archives)

Article about entertainment at the 1943 Fair in the Xenia Gazette, dated July 31, 1943 (JPG)Article about entertainment at the 1943 Fair in the Xenia Gazette, dated July 31, 1943 (JPG)
Fig 8. Articles about entertainment at the 1943 Fair in the Xenia Gazette, dated July 31, 1943 (Greene County Archives)


The fair started out as a 3-day event, but over the years, it has spread out to a full week’s worth of events and programs. This year, the fair will offer various discount days, rides, grandstand events, and lawn activities. To find a full calendar of events, please visit the Greene County Fairgrounds & Expo Center.

So, if you are looking for something fun and exciting to do next week, be sure to check out the “oldest fair west of the Alleghenies”, the Greene County Fair!

Sources:

Greene County Archives

Greene County Fairgrounds & Expo Center (n.d.). History, Retrieved July 25, 2018 from http://www.greenecountyfairgrounds.com/history

Baxter J. (2015, July 25). A bit of Greene County Fair history. Xenia Gazette. Retrieved from https://www.xeniagazette.com/opinion/1462/a-bit-of-greene-county-fair-history


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