Calvin Duncan, Jimmy Ferguson, Harold Lee, John Paul Lennon and Stuart Sasser, all helped launch the fair in 1980, and have continued to be active in fair activities. Ferguson, Lee, and Lennon were members of the original Fair Board, along with the late Alfred Hayes and Stuart Sasser. Duncan was manager of the fair the first year, a job he had held for several years and holds today, along with serving as Fair Board president.
It was Harold Lee, then a state trooper assigned to Columbus County, now retired, who had the idea for the fair in 1979.The Columbus County Law Enforcement Officers Association was a fairly new organization looking for a worthwhile project, and Lee suggested a county fair. Members of the association thought Lee had a good idea. It had been 50 years since the last Columbus County Fair and they wanted to pursue the idea, but had no property.
Stuart Sasser was chief deputy under Sheriff Clayton Norton. A former Department of Corrections officer, he recalled that there was a lot of land near the prison and Department of Transportation that wasn't being used. He suggested that the group seek advice from Gov. Jim Hunt about deeding the property to the County Fair.
There was a lot of red tape, but the deed was signed and sealed early in 1980. The community was excited.the county fair was about to become a reality. There were pine trees growing on the land bigger around than any of the officers, and there were those who doubted that the fair would be birthed in 1980. But the officers proved them wrong, and the first county fair held in Columbus County in half a century opened that fall. All entertainment, livestock and exhibits were under festive tents that have been replaced with permanent buildings as time and funds permitted.
Ferguson, a former Columbus County Sheriff, was an inspector with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Lennon, who now works in security with BB and T,was a deputy sheriff. Duncan, then a Department of Corrections Officer, and later Assistant Superintendent of the prison unit, has now retired.
All of the five have played a major role in the success of the Columbus County Agricultural Fair. The Law Enforcement Officers Association decided early on that the fair would be a family event with wholesome entertainment for all ages, and adopted "It's a Family A Fair" as its motto. The association has maintained that standard for the fair through the years, and the business community and residents have expressed support and appreciation in every conceivable way.
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