This summary is written in accordance to information derived from existing records of the Piedmont Park Company; records of the Dixie Classic Fair; newspaper articles from the Republican, and the Winston-Salem Journal and Sentinel.
Much of the early history is lacking. It was reported that the first Fairs were a great attraction for the country folk and townsfolk alike. They traveled by wagons, buggies, bicycles, horseback, and of course, by foot. Every family took their dinners with them, stayed all day and into the night.
Rosa Mickey had been married to young businessman Henry E. Fries only 14 months when she began looking around for a way to get involved in community service. At the same time, community leaders began looking for someone who could direct a new agricultural exhibit they felt would enhance Forsyth County's farm image. The year was 1882. Mrs. Fries volunteered her services. As it turned out, she became the general chairperson of the project.
That first Fair was held on the floor of Brown's Warehouse at the corner of Main and Fifth Streets, where the Reynolds Plaza is now located. Although tobacco was rapidly growing in importance here, that fair was dedicated to the growing of grains, particularly wheat, and the expanding businesses that produced flour. Grains were important in Forsyth County in the 1880's. They grew well, sold well and the fact that virtually every community in the county had a flour mill showed how important they were.
There were crowds all week for this first event, and Mrs. Fries and her associates had already made the decision to hold another one. Almost immediately the people who raised cattle in the area saw the opportunity for expanding the exhibit ... or the Fair, as it became known.
The second Fair was held in August of 1883, partly indoors and partly outdoors. The exact site is not recorded, but it is believed to again have been Brown's Warehouse and the area surrounding it. Governor T.J. Jarvis spoke at the opening ceremony and toured the exhibits with Mrs. Fries and members of her committee. The fair expanded year by year, and in 1897, became known as the Piedmont Tobacco Fair.
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