Woodford County Fair

293 Beasley Road
Versailles, KY 40383



On March 24, 1892, a fair association was formed and stock at $100 per share was offered in the "Versailles Fair Association."  The proposal was to capitalize the association at $20, 000, purchase grounds, and build a mile kite-shaped track.  On April 14, 1892, during a meeting of the Versailles Fair Association stockholders, Mr. W. Henry Graddy was elected President and Mr. W. Irvine Arnold as Vice President, Mr. Dave McDaniel as Secretary, and Mr. John L. Amsden as Treasurer. Serving on the Board of Directors were Van B. Nelson, Nat Stone, John Ball, G.L. Macey, James W. Miller, J.P. Amsden, J.D. Turner, J.P. Brown, and Henry Heimiller.  Committees appointed were Grounds, Building, and Stock.  A 60-acre tract of land was purchased for $100 per acre from Hardin Fields and James W. Smith on the Big Sink Pike between the L.S. and R.N.I.B railroads.  Each railroad had a station right on the grounds.  This tract of land is located at the first curve on Big Sink Pike in the "triangle" on the right.  Today, Big Sink Pike voting district is still referred to as "The Fairgrounds."  The estimate for building was - grandstand $2,500,  stables $3,000, and $1,500 for the track.  By April 14th, $9000 of $15, 000 required stock had been sold.  Tobias Gibson and Harry Gilmore were appointed to investigate a charter and to see whether the association could utilize the charter of the old Woodford Fair Association.  This indicates a fair association existed earlier.  The Association was named "Versailles Fair & Trotting Association" and August 2 through 5 was set for the fair.  Water was pumped from Big Spring, the Association provided 1, 000 feet of canvas tenting, G.H. Swinney, a well-known caterer, was hired for the dining room.  Special attention was given to the comfort of ladies and there was no liquor or games of chance on the grounds.  The first day of the fair, people began coming in from the country early in the morning and every train was well loaded.  By two o'clock when the races began, the crowd had swelled to about 2,500.  The next day, the grandstand and grounds were filled with approximately 3,500 people.  The banks of Versailles closed at 1PM every day during the fair.  Events and entertainments were harness horse races, mule races, and even bicycle races.  The first race trotted was the Woodburn Stakes for three-year-olds for a purse of $500.  By 1895, the midway had everything from snake charmers to games like "rings and canes."  During this period, WC's fairs were mainly devoted to the improvement of horses and cattle.  It was with the dawn of the 1900s that the story of 4-H became this country's answer to the needs of rural boys and girls.  Cooperative Extension work began May 8, 1914.  Club work took place December 1, 1921.  4-H Camp started in 1907.  During the war years, 4-H clubs had Club Day and the fair was held at Big Spring Park and the Court House.

With all efforts directed toward winning World War II, the fair was cancelled from 1941 and 1945.  In 1946, the Young Farmers started the fair back again under the direction of C.O. Neel.

Concessions, 4-H, FFA, and Home Economics exhibits with food, clothing, arts, and crafts, livestock, crops, and more have always been mainstays of the county fair.  In recent times, the thrills of motor sports with smashing cars, the pageants, musical entertainment, and wild carnival rides have become an integral part of the fair experience.

There has been a fair every year since 1956.  The Woodford County Fair Association was incorporated July 19, 1960.  The Fair was held at the Woodford County High School, Frankfort Street.  Catalogs were not published in 1960 or 1963.  Due to space restrictions, the horse show was cancelled in 1977.  A horse ring was built at the county park where the existing softball fields are located, and an open horse show and 4-H Horse show were held in 1980.  Woodford County Park, Simmons Elementary, and Woodford County High school were sites for the 1981 Fair Events.

For years, the fair was held in a variety of places until settling at its current location in 1987.  What was once a farm now houses two horse rings, pulling track, horse pull track, pavilion and office building, concession stand, and asphalt parking area along with Falling Springs Recreation Center and other facilities and offices.

The first Miss Teen pageant was won by Tina Anglin in 1990.  The United Professional Horseman's Association selected our Saddlebred Horse Show as the Best One-Day Horse Show.  The fair was the second runner up, Most Progressive Fair in Kentucky.  In 1991, the Woodford County Fair catalog received second place in the "Best Catalog" Division by the Department of Agriculture.  In 1992, the Woodford County Fair won the competition for "Best Catalog" and was awarded at the Kentucky Association of Fairs and Horse Shows (KAF&HS) annual meeting.  The Woodford County 4-H Horse and Pony Club presented $500 to the Association to begin a Concession Stand fund in 1994.

Ray Holman, President of the Association in 1995, died February 26th, and the catalog was dedicated to his service and commitment to the County Fair.  Myers International Midway was contracted for the first carnival in 1996.  In 2001, the catalog dedication was to the memory of Jerry Gilkison, Herbert Gilkison, Henry Carl, Ben Downey, and Ray Holman.  In June 2002, Emily Sloan was selected Miss Woodford County Fair. At the KHF&HS annual meeting in January 2003, she was chosen as Miss Kentucky County Fair.  In 2004, Kelley Fleck became the first Miss Pre-teen.

Linsay Piersawl was selected Miss Teen Woodford County Fair in 2005 and Miss Teen Kentucky County Fair in October.  In Zone III (33 counties), the fair was selected "Most Progressive Fair" and "Most Progressive Fair-Overall" in the state by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture was presented at the 2006 annual meeting.

In 2006, a point system was started for the Demolition Derby contestants.  Doug Estep won second place in Kentucky Demolition Derby Championship High Point Series.  Atta Tom Payton, treasurer for the Woodford County Fair, was chosen 2006 Kentucky Fair Person of the Year.  The Woodford County Fair also won the "All Kentucky County" Award and the "Most Progressive Fair" in Zone III.

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