Dane County Fair

1919 Alliant Energy Way
Madison, WI 53713


About the Dane County Fair:

The Dane County Fair is an annual, family-friendly event held in Wisconsin’s capital city every July. Friends from near and far venture to the Alliant Energy Center in Madison for free concerts, entertainment, great food, animals and adventure. The Fair has a rich history dating back to 1851 when the first Dane County Fair was held in Madison. This history guides us as we strive to honor the past, while continuing a tradition and looking to the future.

Historical Highlights:

1851 - The Dane County Agricultural Society came into existence. In October, the first Dane County Fair was held on a Wednesday at a site near the Yahara River in Madison.

1856-1860 - The next Dane County Fairs were held first at a location on Wisconsin Avenue and then at what is now Camp Randall.

1861 - The Civil War pre-empted all fairs for a period of ten years. Camp Randall became a military training site.

1871 - In September, The Dane County Fair was again held at Camp Randall and was one of the ways the community celebrated the end of the Civil War. The Fair was a success, however lean years followed, with subsequent Fairs operating in the red. Prizes and premiums ranged from 25 cents to five dollars; admission was 15 cents for youngsters and 50 cents for adults.

1895 - The Agricultural Society felt it should look for a new site that could be used specifically for The Dane County Fair, so they purchased 250 acres at the present Alliant Energy Center (formerly the Dane County Expo Center) location. Known as "Lakeside Park Farm" it was thought by some to be worthless swampland.

1900-1938 - The financial status of the Fair was precarious, and Fairs were held irregularly. The Society tried to stay alive by selling parcels of the original 250-acre site.

1940 - The Dane County Fair Association replaces the Agricultural Society and for 10 years the Fair was held in Stoughton. During all of this time, the County Board did not abandon the County Fairgrounds.

1946 - The Dane County Fair Association was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) Education Foundation for the purpose of producing an annual county fair.

1951 - The Dane County Fair returns to the Dane County Expo Center, now known as the Alliant Energy Center.

2001 - The Dane County Fair celebrates its 150th Birthday.

2005 - Lyman Anderson named Honorary Fair Marshall.

2009 - Molly Rake is selected the first Dane County Fairest of the Fair.

2014 - The aging barns are torn down and replaced with two modern animal housing Pavilions.

2017 - Extensive community outreach results in new sponsors for the youth-oriented Fair.

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