History of the Essex County Fair:
The first Essex County-Clinton County Fair was organized by Elkanah Watson in 1848. It was held on the Port Kent Road, on the plains east of the Town of Keeseville. The most important event was horse racing, which is still a component of the fair. In 1850, Essex and Clinton Counties separated and the Essex County Fair moved to Elizabethtown where it was held annually until 1865. In 1865, the fair committee decided to move the fair to Westport where it would be closer to the lake. They hoped that the accessibility of lake transportation would boost attendance.
For fifteen years land was rented south of town for $150. However, during the period 1885-1889, various parcels were purchased by the Essex County Agricultural Society for $1,500 to form the present grounds. An additional $1,700 was spent to erect the track and buildings. Many buildings have been added to the fairgrounds since then. The Grand Stand and the Agricultural Center were built just after the turn of the century. The many 4-H barns were constructed by volunteers over the years since 4-H began in 1941. In 1985 the historic structures on the fairground were inventoried for the New York State Parks and Recreation Division for Historic Preservation. In 2004 Floral Hall was completely renovated keeping its historic look.
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