In 1855 the first fair in West Tennessee, an agricultural and mechanical fair, was organized in Jackson to educate farmers on new farming concepts.
Within two years, barns, a grandstand, racetrack, amusement area, and cooking tents were added. Then as new exhibits of vegetables, crops, canning, baking, embroidery, quilts, and clothing were entered and displayed so fairgoers could enjoy and learn to recognize quality products. Baby shows, beauty pageants, photography, cut flowers, houseplants, hobbies, and crafts have added more contemporary activities along with the traditional entries. The mules, horses, and harness races have given way to beef, dairy, goats, sheep, and pet shows.
The fairgrounds were originally located on Fairground Street then relocated to Magnolia Street. The fair’s management and name has changed several times over the years. This fair has experienced great successes, along with many difficulties. It overcome a devastating fire, which destroyed the entire fairgrounds in 1929.
Over the 160 plus years, many organizations have been involved. Some of them include community clubs, home demonstration clubs, and youth organizations (4-H, FFA, and Scouts). Ruritan, Lions Club, and church groups have all funded their charitable projects with proceeds from fair activities.
In 1988, all buildings were destroyed, making way for a beautiful new large building with two adjoining open-air pavilions, a grandstand, and lakes.
Beginning as a medium to educate rural farmers on how to produce quality products, this fair has become more than an agricultural competition because it involves every segment of the region and provides wholesome family entertainment.
References: Historic Madison, Emma Williams, and dn English