Fair Enough

By Marian Currens, Archives and Research Center Coordinator, Historical Society of Frederick County | Photography by Turner Photography Studio | Posted on 09.08.15 – History, Timepiece

These days, September brings The Great Frederick Fair to town. Visitors from Frederick County, the rest of Maryland and beyond come to enjoy all the fair has to offer. Exhibits of farm equipment, produce, baked goods, horticulture and art, as well as hooked, stitched, knit and sewn items accompany the popular food, entertainment and rides, ensuring the fair has something for everyone.

This ticket, issued by the Frederick County Agricultural Society, granted admission to the fair held in October of 1882. The Great Frederick Fair has its roots in the early 19th- century, when Frederick County was primarily agricultural and local farmers decided to organize and work collectively to promote interest and progress in local farming. Frederick’s first fair was held in 1822 on May 23 and 24 next to a tavern owned by George Creager. This spot, conveniently near the National Pike, was ideally located to encourage visitors from greater Maryland. This fair was a cattle show, and the premiums awarded totaled $90.

In May of 1853, the society, alternatively known as the “Agricultural Club of Frederick County,” or the “Farmers Club,” formally changed its name to the Frederick County Agricultural Society.  It began holding fairs at the grounds of the Hessian Barracks until that property was sold to establish the Maryland School for the Deaf. After the end of the Civil War, the Agricultural Society entered a period of revitalization. According to History of Frederick County, “ever since the war the Frederick Fair … enjoyed an enviable reputation, being universally acknowledged as the leading fair in Maryland.”

In 1867, the Agricultural Society purchased 19 acres east of Frederick and in 1868 the first fair was held on the Frederick Fairgrounds, which today totals more than 40 acres. This month the Frederick County Agricultural Society will present the 153rd Great Frederick Fair.