Tuesday, October 5, 2010

River Bank---Recollection - Of Time Pt.3--The Fredericksburg Agriculture Fair

The Fredericksburg Agriculture Fair was established in 1738 when the Virginia House of Burgess authorized and directed that "fairs should be held in Fredericksburg twice a year for the sale of cattle, provisions, goods, wares, and all kinds of merchandise”. In 1752 - a Company of Comedians from the new Theater of Williamsburg performed at the June Fredericksburg Fair. In 1774, the Fredericksburg Jockey Club's race meets were seen during the June and October fairs. There were no fairs in Fredericksburg from 1881-1886. The Fair was brought to life again in 1887 and by the turn of the century there were circuses, hot air balloons and thousands of entries. As farmers struggled during 
the Depression, the tradition of the fair slipped.
For 16 years, beginning in the mid 1920's the fair wasn't held.
In the late 1940's a group of farmers formed a fair association.
The local Jaycees decided to help. 
In 1948 Commercial space was sold under a 1,300 foot tent.
A cowboy act and some other entertainment were brought in. 
Livestock and homemaking exhibits were arranged and thus,
the current day's Fredericksburg Agricultural Fair was born. 
The tents were used to house the homemaking, arts and crafts,
food concessions and commercial spaces. 
The first structure, the fair office building,
did not go up until the late 1950's at that time Kathleen Howard began running the Homemaking exhibits. There is also a Cattle Barn and workshop on the grounds. Smaller structures were built to house food concessions. In 960 the fair was kicked off by a reception at the old Princess Anne Hotel followed by a big parade down Caroline Street. The Fredericksburg area was still rural and there were many farms to provide entries for cattle, poultry, vegetables, etc. That year an unknown singer, Tammy Waynette came to perform and surprised the audience by singing some songs with her new husband, George Jones. There was even a real helicopter ride with the door open. Mary Carson, along with the assistance of Kay Jenks Davies, started the Miss Fredericksburg Fair beauty pageant.
I remember seeing all the bright light and all the beautiful colors. I remember swell times playing in the warm Sunshine. .I remember riding on the Ferris wheel, and seeing all the clowns and vendors, getting lots of candy apples and cotton candy pop corn too. I remember those carefree days when I was swept up and away high on the Ferris wheel!! I remember going early to the Fair and leaving late, falling to sleep in the car on the way home.
 At night while under my covers in bed, with my windows open, I could still smell the cotton candy and hear the laughter of all the children, as I drifted off to sleep, with much anticipation of what tomorrow would bring.

© 2010 JGomez

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