August 18, 19, 20 2017
 Somers CT

Fair History

2015 marks the 79th Annual Hartford County 4-H Fair, although it has been held throughout the county and has been large and small the fair continues to Make the Best Better. By clicking on each of the years here you can view newspaper articles or photos from each decade. You can also view some of the highlights from throughout the years by scrolling down and viewing each year. If you would like to contribute a photo or newspaper article please feel free to contact the webmaster and we can continue to build these archives together.

Pre Hartford County 4-H Fair Association

During the years 1931, 1932 & 1933 Hartford County 4-Hers exhibited at the

Granby Grange Fair. Starting in 1931 about 150 young 4-Hers exhibited
at this fair which grew to over 250 4-H exhibitors by 1933.

 

1934

The HartfordCounty 4-H Fair Association was organized  and held its first fair at

Charter Oak Park in West Hartford.
 

1935

Although it was not considered a successful fair and a financial loss was noted, the fair association found ways to cover expenses.

 
1936

The fair moved to Cherry Park in Avon. One of the main events was oxen drawing.

These years at Cherry Park had an increase in attendance. The Hartford Courant
published that 1500 attended the one day fair. Twenty six girls also participated in a
fashion review at the fair in preparation for the state contest.

 

1937

2000 spectators attended this one day event.

 

1938

Fair admission was $0.25.

 
1939

With more activities and a growing number of exhibitors the fair opened its

 gates for a two day fair with great success.
 
1940

Mother nature was not on the side of fairgoers this year, this was the first year that there was rain, this was also the first year to hold a square dance as well as the state sheep show.

 

1941

First Doodlebug draw.

 

1942 – 1944

Due to the World War II war effort and gas rationing the fair was canceled. Clubs held local events to continue to show off their projects without interfering with the war efforts.

 

1945

A small fair was held at Farmington High School, fair president Horace Hallady commented “not on as large a scale as the usual, but a start back over the upward trail”.

 

1946

After a full day of exhibiting, the 4-Hers piled into the gymnasium

at Farmington High School for a dance.
 
1947

Special events that took place at this fair included balloon races, duck races, cross cut saw competitions, a farm bureau picnic and a dance on Saturday night.

 

1948

The first 4-H horse show was held with eight horses.

 

1949

The fair moved back to Cherry Park after outgrowing the space at

Farmington High School, beef alone increased from 2 to 27 entries.
 Fair minutes show that the Ad Campaign goal was $1,000.

 

1950

The greased pole and tractor driving competitions were added.

This was also the first year a Victory Banquet was held for the Ad Campaign.
The fair also moved from Labor Day weekend to the last weekend in August

 

1951

The Hartford Courant reported that close to one thousand 4-H

members exhibited at this years fair.

 

1952

The fair moved to its first of two homes at Bradley Field, here a little league baseball game was held. Memories recall an excellent food tent run by Kenneth Adam. Advertisers in the premium book were given two complementary tickets to the fair for the first time.

 

1953

The Fair Association created a sound track for use while advertising through the streets as well as to play at the fair. Toilets were also built on the fairgrounds by the Hartford Trade School. Fair was held Saturday and Sunday and a church service was held at the fairgrounds.

Fair association meetings were also gaining popularity with more
members attending throughout the year.

 

1954

Due to the growing demand of premiums due to the increasing number of entries the AdCampaign goal increased to $5,000.

 

1955

Two active leaders were lost this year, Advisor Edgar S. Grant, and

Ken Adam who ran the food tent.

Left to right, Fillmore Olson, Rocco Chambrello, Stanley Pajor. 

Photo by Harry Batz

Hartford Courant August 28, 1955

1956

Newspaper reports stated that good weather helped draw well over 6000 spectators to the fair.

 

1957

The fair expanded to three full days.

 

1958

The WAC field at Bradley was sold and the state gave the use of land within the

Bradley Field Fencing just north of the WAC field.

 

1959

Dog Obedience was added to the activities at the fair,

the first dog club was formed in East Hartford.

 

1960

A paved area was put in place for the food tent.

 

1961

For the 25th Anniversary the fair introduced the Queens Contest, the first queen was Ann Scheithauer. Fair exhibitors took home silver ribbons for their winning exhibits.

Fair Admission was $0.65.

 

1962

A poster contest was started for 4-Hers. A growing number of entries in the homemaking tent required an expansion and more tables to be build. Camp craft was added as a class in addition to a Dairy Herdsmen Contest. Operating budget for this year was $12,050.

 

1963

Dairy Herdsmen Contest was changed to the Dairy and Beef Herdsman Contest.

 

1964

In addition to the normal fair activities, track and field competitions were held.

 

1965

Operating budget increased to $14,050.

 

1966

A holiday dance offered fellowship for all ages during the Christmas/New Year vacation.

The Fair Association created five $100 scholarships for 4-H members entering the first

or second year of college. A photography class was added to the fair.

1966
A holiday dance offered fellowship for all ages during the Christmas/New Year vacation.
The Fair Association created five $100 scholarships for 4-H members entering  the first or
second year of college. A photography class was added to the fair.
 
1967
Although a wet and rainy weekend President Mike Smyth
remembered everyone having a good time.
 
1968
4-H age was changed to 19 compared to 21 that it had been in previous years.
Fair improvements included flush toilets and a second horse show ring.
 
1969
A 4-H food Building was erected at the Bradley Field Fairgrounds,
later brought to Fourtown Fairgrounds.
 
1970
The homemaking tent saw new table coverings with the purchase of green burlap.
Horse judging was held at the fair.
 
1971
Hurricane Doria struck Windsor Locks during the fair, using ropes tied to buses and
trucks 4-Hers and friends were able to keep the tents, livestock and exhibits
from blowing away or becoming damaged. The 4-H Starters automotive club
restored and exhibited a 1941 Plymouth Convertible. Six scholarships were
awarded from the fair association.
 
1972
The Winding  Brook 4-H Club donated the Judith Feery Demonstration Trophy.
Bicycle Gymkhana was held at the fair.
 
1973
A Premium Book Cover contest was started with the winning entry appearing
as the cover of the book, Janet Carison won the contest.
A Walk-Trot Class was added to the Horse show.
 
1974
President Kevin Woolam was the first 2nd Generation Fair President. 4-H
Bridges the Gap float was used in the Hartford St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The
clover from the float would be used on the stage at the fair for several years.
 
1975
The last year that bicycle Gymkhana was held.
 
1976
The nation’s  bicentennial brought out some 4-H spirit, a handmade bicentennial quilt was
raffled off, Dave Potter was the lucky recipient. A bicentennial float was
made and was displayed in sixteen parades as well as at the fair. Special
ribbons that were red, white, and blue were handed out to exhibits. The baby
animal tent was renamed Nap Lavigne Baby Animal Tent, in memory of Nap who
started the tent years ago.
 
1977
A 4-H talent  show is added. Debbie Turner was the
first female to enter the Fair Doodle Bug Draw.
 
1978
With the  increasing number of goat entries they were moved from the poultry and sheep
tent to the dairy tent, they were also added to the Herdsmen Contest.
 
1979
An exhaust fan and screens were installed in the food building.

OCTOBER 3, 1979
A freak  tornado all but destroyed the fairgrounds at Bradley Field,
 losses were estimated at $75,000.
 
1980
After the tornado in 1979 a lot of discussion  was held about returning to Bradley Field or finding a new home for the fair, Fourtown Fair offered their fairgrounds with the only expense being utilities,
a motion at a fair meeting to rebuild Bradley Field passed 42 to 20. The battered fairgrounds were rebuilt at a cost of $31,000 over the normal budget, insurance reimbursement was only $17,000.
 
1981
A few traditions were discontinued this year, no poster cover or Herdsmen contests
were held. Computer classes were created and the horse draw was dedicated to
John Sullivan a fair supporter for over thirty years.

1982

A Dairy Calf chain was started in Hartford County thanks to the Windsor Locks Rotary Club.
Peter Cherichetti received the first calf.

 

1983

A clown contest was added to the fair, the Hilda Purrington Clown Trophy went to the best clown. The fair association held a picnic at the fairgrounds in July for fun and a little work to be done. Premier Livestock Showmanship was added with the Grand champion being Christine Francis, entries included the champions from
Dairy, Beef, Sheep, Swine and Goats.

 

1984

Aimee Clarke was the first female president of the Fair Association. No live poultry exhibits were allowed at the fair due to Avian Influenza. The Beef Heifer Chain was started, Ellen Leahey was awarded this animal.

 

1985

The 4-H Fair moved to its current location at Fourtown Fairgrounds in Somers. There was no greased pole competition this year, tractor driving contests were revived from past years, other events included Tom Sawyer fence painting and a Heavy weight Doodlebug draw. The Fair Association did not operate a food building this
year. More than $20,000 was raised by the annual Advertising Campaign.

 

1986

Hartford County 4-H Fair celebrated its 50th Anniversary while trying to find land for a permanent fair location. The buildings and equipment that came from Bradley Field were in storage.

 

1987

The premium book was dedicated to Bayard Pelton Jr. who donated the trailers that the fair
associations belongings were stored in while searching for a new home.

 

1988

Premiums for showmanship classes were added, Dairy and beef $6, $5, $4, $3, Pigs, sheep,
goats and dogs $4, $3, $2, Rabbits & Poultry $3, $2, $1.

 

1989

A costume class for all livestock animals was held. A new lot in photography included

pictures from the previous Hartford County 4-H Fair

 

1990

The 4-H food building that had been at Bradley Field was renovated and permanently placed on the grounds at Fourtown Fairgrounds. The fair premium book got third place at the Association of Connecticut Fairs.

 

1991

The fair stayed open an hour less changing the closing time from  midnight on Friday and Saturday to 11pm.  A motion at a fair meeting was approved to form a Kings Contest along with the  Queens Contest, no entry would be made in this contest until 2000.

 

1992

An antique tractor pulling competition was held, unfortunately when the fair changed

weekends a few years later they could no longer attend the fair.

 

1993

With the addition of the large dairy barn at Fourtown Fairgrounds the dairy and goats

 no longer were housed in tents

 

1994

With the outbreak of rabies in the state a ban was put in place that prevented petting some species of animals including rabbits and goats. These animals were placed behind a double fence for protection. Champion rosettes for items in the homemaking building were displayed with the exhibit rather than awarded at closing ceremonies.

 

1995

After much discussion the fair association decided to move the fair back a week in August to the weekend of the 18th – 20th. This was done because the older 4-Hers had concerns that they would miss the fair because colleges
were starting sooner. The motion to move the weekend passed 62 to 22. Working steer were also added as exhibits to the fair.

 

1996

The Homemaking Building was renamed the Exhibition Center to better represent the exhibits on display.

 

1997

In the addition of typical food vendors, this year the fair included many crafters that sold items out of the red craft barn. Working Steer were added to the premier showmanship class. Llamas and Alpacas were a new exhibit at the fair. Fair association approved $4,400 to update the electrical system in the new dairy barn at Fourtown Fairgrounds to better accommodate exhibitors, in addition more lights were added to the sheep barn
for an additional cost. $5,000 was also approved to replace the concrete blocks used for pulling contests, the blocks being used were from 1951.

 

1998

In memory of Leland “Red” Bradley, Austin Harlow raised money for the Red Bradley trophy by holding a contest to guess the number of steps that he walked during work week and fair, the trophy now is awarded at the end of each fair. The horse program expanded to three days,

a tent and stalls were ordered to allow space for horses to spend the weekend.

 

1999

The growing sheep program filled the barn and a tent was put up

outside the barn to house all of the tack

 

2000

Jeff Fusick Was the first Hartford County 4-H King

 

2001

Publicity committee started to create brochures to pass out throughout the c

ommunity to help advertise the fair.

 

2002

This year marked the 4-H centennial anniversary, celebrating 100 years of 4-H a special ceremony was held at the fair. With a nationwide push to become environmentally friendly the fair association decided to implement recycling of soda and water bottles at the fair.

2003

With over 100 goats they could no longer fit into the dairy barn,

a tent was rented and half of the goats stayed in the goat tent.

 

2004

A year of bad weather caused major flooding throughout the fairgrounds, 4-Hers entered fitting and showmanship covered in mud after digging trenches around tents. A lightning strike that hit Steve Zoppa’s parked doodle bug gave an electrifying jolt to the fairgrounds during the middle of the night.

 

2005

A donkey and mule show was added as a one day show in future years

this would expand to a full weekend exhibit.

 

2006

A group of 4-Hers working on service projects developed and implemented a program

 known as animal buddies to help kids with special needs show livestock at the fair,

 this program continues to have several exhibitors.

 

2007

With the success of recycling from years before, the fair association purchased recycle bins,

in addition new announcer stands were built for the livestock show rings.

 

2008

New fire codes caused some last minute changes including finding twenty fire extinguishers the day before the fair, also people staying overnight were no longer able to sleep in barns with the animals. A food drive was held at the fair to raise food for CT Food Share.

 

2009

The fair association changed the bylaws to include junior advisors to assist with mentoring officers. Junior advisors are young adults recently aged out of 4-H.

 

2010

Several new features this year included an Open Horse Show, a 5k Road Race and a Battle of the Bands Competition, Connecticut Masons were also invited to provide free child identification kits to families.

 

2011

Successfully hitting another milestone the fundraising committee introduced a special mug with a fair design to celebrate the 75th anniversary. Chris Ferguson put together a time of news articles and photos from all the years that stretched over two hundred feet long.

2012

A much smaller fair than normal as there were no amusements at the fair and entries as a whole were fewer. A new event was a movie at the fair showing Charllet’s Web on a big screen where the amusements have been in previous years.

2013

A great year with near record attendance over the last ten years, amusements were back, 4-Hers participated in Ag Olympics which had not happened in several years. The horse draw happened on Friday night vs Saturday so that it is not competing with another fair this proved to be successful. Program committee challenged clubs to make a mini golf hole in order to create a small course to go along with the game tent.