The first County Fair was held in or around 1851. The Fair was officially organized in 1883. The annual fair was held in early October in the late 1800’s and was known as the Forksville Fair.
In 1878, the membership was listed at 550 members. The following year (1879), members voted on a permanent location for the fair. Forksville won with 246 votes and Dushore received 47 votes.
The fair leased ground from Mr. D. T. Huckell for $50 per year, in 1885. The present fairgrounds were purchased in 1892 from J. W. Rogers for the sum of $1000.
In 1894, a 100th anniversary celebration of the settling of Sullivan County was held at the Fairgrounds.
In the early 1900’s, some of the popular events at the Fair were the baseball and basketball games. Teams from Colley, Dushore, Estella, and other surrounding areas were asked to come and play. First prize was $8.
In 1927, the fairgrounds was valued at $4,250 and the fair association owned the merry-go-round ride.
In the 1930’s, the fair dates were moved to late September, and in 1934, it was decided to have the fair the last week of September. In 1935, the fair dates were moved two weeks earlier to September 9th to the 12th. There is no mention of the status of the merry-go-round after 1930. Gate admissions in 1934 were listed at 3037 persons. The Annual Meeting was often held in late December or early January for the election of officers. The Annual Meeting is now held at the end of January.
In 1942 & 1943, no fair was held due to World War II. It was noted in old Fair Books that no fair was held because of a gas and tire shortage. In 1944, no fair was held due to the Infantile Paralysis Epidemic.
In 1947, admission was $.50, cars $.25, and exhibitors $1.75 with a season ticket costing $2.00.
In 1949, fair dates were August 31 to September 3. At the 1950 fair the carnival never came. Legal action was considered for several years afterward. In 1951, the dates of the annual fair were listed as August 29, 30, 31, and September 1st. Also at that time, efforts were made to acquire new members from other areas of the county. Mr. Bill Gregory was Extension Agent at that time and was instrumental in many changes in the county fair, one being the start of a youth tractor driving contest.
In 1956, it was decided to become the Sullivan County Fair. In 1957 & 58 the Annual Bowhunters Festival was held on the grounds. In 1958, the Fair dates were changed to the week before Labor Day. In 1960, tractor pulling was introduced at the fair with a $3.00 entry fee and first place paying $25.00, second place $20.00, and third place $15.00.
In 1963, a new enclosed grandstand was built on the grounds. In 1985, the church camp land of 85 acres (most of which is on the side of the mountain) was purchased by the Fair Association with the help of the Bowhunters Festival.
In 1988, women were allowed to become fair members once again and the fair dates were changed to run from Wednesday through Labor Day. In some early photos, women were involved but were excluded sometime in the 1900’s.
In 1989, the new parking lot project was started, and in 1993, additional levels were added to total eight parking terraces. The lot now holds approximately 1500 cars.
In 1994, the Sullivan County Fair adopted new and revised bylaws thus becoming a non-profit corporation, also known as 501(c)(3). The membership stood at 105, both men and women. In 2000, a new 4-H building was built in cooperation with the 4-H Clubs in the county. The building was the first building on the grounds to contain heat and indoor restrooms, making it available for use in the winter months.
In 2001, the Sullivan County Fair celebrated its 150th anniversary. In 2003 and 2004 a new roof and renovations were made to the Flag Building, one of the oldest buildings on the grounds. Also, a new public address system and updates to the electrical systems were made.
The Fairgrounds has been maintained and improved as much as possible in a county that has only a population of 6600 people. Much time and effort has gone into continuing a traditional county fair. Although the fair is small in size, the exhibits from the residents of this county and surrounding counties are varied and a good indication of the pride of the Sullivan County Citizens.
As part of its non-profit status, the fair must strive to educate the consumer of the rural way of life and also to encourage the youth of the county to be proud of the Sullivan County way of life. The County is not large, but the fair strives to exhibit the agriculture in a positive way. Agriculture is the largest asset of this county and the fair must do its part to encourage an understanding of where our food comes from. It also provides an area in the county for various groups to hold events and celebrations. 4-H, especially, benefits from the fair. 4-H members receive monetary rewards for hard work and public recognition of their work.
Currently the Sullivan County Fair has 105 members and the recently elected executive committee and officers are as follows: President Deveron Wilcox, Vice President Howard C. Lower, Secretary Jody E. Lambert, Treasurer Lisa Fiester, Committee members, Nolan Chase, Jean Spako, Nadine Molyneux, Jeffrey Long, Marty Frey,Craig Fluck, Shirley Pardoe, Darwin Hatch, and Joseph Roupp.
2014 fair dates are August 27 to September 1, 2014.