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Our View: Clark fair about more than entertainment

In a community the size of Winchester and Clark County, it’s hard not to notice when fair time is near.

The annual county fair is a decades-old tradition that draws thousands from our community and others nearby to celebrate our rich agriculture heritage while enjoying all the event has to offer.

While many visit the fair for the rides, the events, the pageants or the food, the fair is about much more. Each of those events are important because they draw the community together for a common cause, whether that is to watch your neighbor compete in the pageants, to see your school friends and catch up, to watch horse shows, hear local bands and much more. Ultimately, the fair is about uniting thousands of people, from many different walks of life in one place. That’s not something easily accomplished in communities like ours, especially not to the scale of the local fair.

As the Clark County Fair Board explains, “Throughout the history of the Clark County Fair, there is a vivid reflection of people … hard working, warm and friendly Clark Countians who come together as a community to showcase their talents. All the year long, citizens look forward to getting together with friends and neighbors at the county fair, enjoying camaraderie while catching up with familiar faces.”

The fair is about community as much as it is about fun or entertainment.

That community-building has a rich history, too. With nearly 8,000 in attendance, the first Clark County Fair was a three-day event, held Oct. 14-16, 1948, at the Winchester Tobacco Warehouse Cooperative on Winn Avenue. With a 35-cent entry fee for adults and 15-cents for children, attendees could enjoy entertainment programs, livestock shows, agricultural displays, a merry-go-round and a ferris wheel.

The fair was eventually moved to Hannah McClure Field until the summer of 1968, when the Fair Board leased a tract of land on Route 15 from the Fiscal Court. The rolling countryside was converted into the present-day fairgrounds featuring a horse show ring, motor sports arena, carnival midway, the William N. Shelton Exposition Building, a 4-H exhibit hall and several livestock shelters.

After 70 years, the Clark County Fair now draws more than 40,000 fairgoers annually. That’s an incredible accomplishment in itself.

However, that would not be possible without the selfless volunteers who spend the year planning, facilitating and making improvements year after year. Additionally, without community support — from sponsors to event participants and even ticket sales — those improvements would be fewer and further between.

We thank the board and its many volunteers for the tireless work put in for decades to make the Clark County Fair one of the best in the region.
It is something our community can be proud of and something we can celebrate together this week.