The Cecil County Fair – A History

Fair Hill, Cecil County Fair

This entire week, through Sunday July 28th, the Cecil County Fair will be the focus of Fair Hill.  Celebrating its 66th year, the Cecil County Fair is a showcase for agriculture, featuring livestock shows, horse shows, tractor displays, and garden exhibits.  The Fair also boasts a wide variety of exciting attractions, from tractor pulls to Midway rides, and closes out the week with the wildly popular Demolition Derby.  Information on the 2019 Cecil County Fair can be found on their website:  www.cecilcountyfair.org

All photos in this piece are courtesy of the Cecil County Fair.

Fair Origins

The Cecil County Fair originated in 1953, when members of the Calvert, Cecilton and Colora Granges met over lunch to discuss the idea. The founding members were Robert Carrion, Bill Groff, Walt Mason, and Ray Mueller, Cecil County’s Agricultural Extension Agent at the time.

Grove Miller, on behalf of the group, approached Mr. William du Pont, who owned the property known today as Fair Hill Natural Resource Management Area. Mr. du Pont welcomed the idea and was very supportive. In fact, his one condition for the very first year was that he be allowed to pay for all the expenses. In subsequent years Mr. du Pont helped to share the expense of the fledgling fair, along with donating a grandstand and several outbuildings for displays and livestock.

In 1954, the first fair was held. It was a one-day event, held on July 31 from 10 AM to 10 PM. Admission was completely free. Local individuals, organizations, businesses as well as the county commissioners provided financial support along with Mr. du Pont.

There were approximately 752 entries from 204 open and 4-H exhibitors. Prizes were awarded in many categories, including home arts, food, flowers, produce, dairy, beef and horses. About 750 people attended.

The program for the first Cecil County Fair in 1954.

Among the first exhibitors were the Grange, the Homemakers’ Club and the Cecil County PTA. The midway consisted of just two booths – a dart and balloon game and baseball and bottle game run by Grove Miller, Jack Miller and Walt Mason. All comers walked away with a prize.

Following a calf scramble, where the winner kept the calf, the evening’s entertainment concluded with a performance by the North East High School Band.

The fair increased to 2 days in 1956, then 3 days in 1957. In 1961 it expanded to 4 days, then to 6 in 1976, 7 in 1983, and finally to the current 9 day event that it is today in 1995.

1967 Farm Queen Contest.

By the 1970’s the fair was growing substantially to an attendance of about 20,000. In 1973 a tractor pull was added, sponsored by the Cecil County Young Farmers. The popular Stoney Robert’s Demolition Derby followed in 1977. By the 1980’s attendance reached 50,000. By this time, a great diversity of animal shows had been added as well as a full- scale midway.

Today more than 75,000 people attend the 9-day fair. The fair has over 7,000 entries from about 1,200 open and 4-H exhibitors. The fair continues to celebrate our agricultural heritage, while providing hands-on learning opportunities for children and adults to explore today’s agriculture. Entertainment highlights include the ever-popular demolition derby, a professionally-sanctioned rodeo, tractor and truck pulls, plus countless competitions for 4-H youth and county residents to showcase their skills.

On behalf of the all-volunteer fair board we want to thank you for attending the Cecil County Fair and sharing in our rich history as we help to strengthen the bond between our farmers and our community.

Infinite Future

Phase One of the Fair Hill Equine Improvement Project will provide the opportunity for the Cecil County Fair to expand their horse show offerings in to the new arenas and utilize additional space west of the fairgrounds.  A potential Phase Two of the Project could include a tunnel under Route 273, which would connect the north and south parking fields, easing traffic issues and enhancing the safety of special event parking in the future.

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