The First Century - Union Fair 1869-1969, compiled and written by Donald and Marion Mattoon. This article written by Janet Boetsch originally appeared in the 1992 Union Fair Premium book, and has been adapted here to reflect the last decade.
In the September 17, 1869, issue of the Courier Gazette, an announcement appeared stating that The North Knox Agricultural and Horticultural Society will hold its first annual fair at Union, October 5, 6, And 7. That publication was the announcement of the birth of the Union Fair. With the exception of 1943 and 1944, the fair has been held annually since with many changes along the way, and has become one of the best agricultural fairs in the State of Maine.
Societies to promote agriculture and the goods manufactured were being formed in Maine as many as three decades before Maine became a state in 1820. From 1821 to 1869, 57 Maine agricultural societies were incorporated, with the major purpose being to improve practices in agriculture and horticulture through exchanges of information on practices. The book The First Century - Union Fair 1869-1969, describes the formation of an association of neighbors in five small communities in rural Maine - Appleton, Hope, Union, Warren, and Washington - which together in 1869 were incorporated by the Maine Legislature as the North Knox Agricultural and Horticultural Society. As was the rule in the early days of the fairs, each town belonging to the Association took successive turns hosting the annual event. In 1895, by legislative action, the organization was renamed the Knox Agricultural Society.
Records show that the first day of the first fair was an ideal autumn day - clear, cool, comfortable - held at Union Common. Exhibitors and visitors arrived on foot, or by wagon or carriage, tying horses to hitching posts around the community after stables were filled. Temporary pens and ties for livestock were arranged for the cattle ground around the common. Exhibits for the field crops, carriages, agricultural implements, fruits, dairy products, embroidery, quilts, rugs and other homemade crafts were displayed at the Wingate, Simmons And Company carriage shop, also located on the common. Competitions in plowing by horses and oxen were also held.
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