Monday, May 14, 2012

Lake County Fairgrounds Begins 2nd Century

I drive past it nearly every Sunday morning as we go food shopping.  I have ridden my bicycle throughout the grounds when I lived on Mardon Drive.  I have attended Oktoberfests held there long ago.  I even watched our 41st U.S. President make a visit to the Fairgrounds in the late 1980's.  Today's blog examines the history of the Lake County Fairgrounds, a local county landmark that is beginning its second century.

The Lake County Agricultural Society was formed in 1840, the same year as the county itself.  It was an offshoot of the nearby Geauga County Fair group.  Fairs occurred from 1841-1846 but the first inaugural fair was in 1850.  The Lake County Fairgrounds was located then on Cummings allotment on Bank Street in Painesville.  One dollar bought eight tickets to the event.  Free admission for horses and carriages were included.  On the last day of the event, one could partake in the exchange of livestock.  The Fair continued until 1894 when financial woes led to the disbanding of the society and annual event.

1911 saw the resurrection of the fairgrounds and the society. Lands were purchased on Mentor Avenue, its current home and within a year the first new era Lake County Fair was held.  28,000 visitors strolled the 65 acres that first year.  The Gentlemen Farmers and Cleveland Industrialists who called Lake County their summer home had much to offer to the annual event.  In excess of $500,000 of livestock exhibitions were now on display.  A Grandstand was built in 1913 and survived until the fire of 1964.  Since rebuilt it is still used for events today. A Log Cabin was added in 1915.  Built from donated supplies of the original descendents, this cabin structure and other warehouse buildings  still remain and reminds visitors of a bygone time.

The 2012 Lake County Fair will be held August 14-19th.  One need not wait until then to experience the Fairgrounds, events are held there every month.  As you pass by or travel the roadways of Lake County, remember this bit of local history located at 1301 Mentor Avenue, Painesville, Ohio.

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