Warren County Fair History
On December 1, 1849 a group of Warren County residents met at the Opera House in Lebanon, Ohio in response to a call published in the Buckeye Mercury and Western Star, both local newspapers, for the purpose of forming the Warren County Agricultural Society.
From this group of about seventy persons attending, a constitution was adopted on and a slate of officers were elected.
Issac Evans, the first Vice President of the society in 1840, took William Henry Harrison to what is now the Warren County Fairgrounds where he made a campaign speech. The future President Wm. H. Harrison planned and arranged the first agricultural fair with Issac Evans which did not take place until 10 years later. Mr. Evans died before the first fair was held but the fairboard presented his widow with a silver tea service engraved “Warren County Agricultural Society to the family of Isaac Evans deceased.”
The first fair held by the Society was in September of 1850 at Osborn Grove. Osborn’s Grove was at the end of East Main Street in Lebanon. The newspaper, “deemed it a respectable exhibition.”
Receipts for the first fair were $354.50 and was accounted for by $214.00 membership fees, $25.00 from Shaker Society and $115.50 from the County Treasury. Membership dues in 1850 were $1.00 a year.
The second fair was held on the same grounds with the fair moving the next year to the location on North Broadway, St. Rt. 42. That year, 1852, a board fence was erected around five acres. Within the fence a exhibition hall was built 24’ x 80’.
Horses have had widespread interest at county fairs, Warren County being no exception. Classes for all-purpose horses, speed, roasters, draft and thoroughbred have been popular events for fair goers.
The 4-H program was started by Albert B. Graham with boys and girls in Clark County near Springfield, Ohio on January 15, 1902. It was met with enthusiasm by the Warren County Agricultural Society which built a Junior Fair program that developed into an added plus for the Society.
Flower shows, beef, swine, dairy, field crops, garden produces, goats, sheep, poultry, arts and crafts, 4-H shows, midway games and side shows, demolition derby, racing, high wire acts, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, church groups, floats, bands, farm equipment, community equipment, and food of all kinds have been a part of the Warren County Fair throughout its history.
The old round house was torn down and a new exhibition hall with heat and air-conditioning was built for year-round use.
A fire in 1947 burnt down the old wooden grandstand and today a grandstand that seats 2,700 is glass-enclosed with heat and air-conditioning.
Additional barns with show rings have brought several large livestock shows and other events to the fairgrounds making the grounds a year-round attraction.
The fair has seen many changes in its history. The days of a family with picnic baskets going to the fair may be long gone, but the Society has grown with the changes to bring to us an awakening of the spirit of improvement.
Today the fairgrounds covers 57 acres with 26 buildings and show areas that are very capable of hosting major shows and other events.