Early Alexandria Fair Scenes - photo did not appear in newsletter
Used with permission from Northern Kentucky Views (http://www.nkyviews.com/campbell/newport980.htm)
1856, the Alexandria Fair has provided memories to many Campbell
Countians. The roots of the Alexandria Fair go all the way back to 1856
when some early Campbell County citizens formed the Campbell County
Agriculture Society. These proud citizens wanted a yearly event to show
off and exhibit their crops, livestock, domestic talents, horses, and
The official birthday of the fair
is June 7, 1856, the day the Agricultural Society organized itself into
a corporation. A constitution of 14 articles was adopted and the
following officers were elected: Benjamin Smith, president; Thomas L.
Jones, vice president; Benjamin Beall, Secretary; George W. Reiley,
Treasurer; and managers Edwin Morin, Joseph Shaw, Charles Murnan,
Alexander Caldwell, James T. Berry, Col James Taylor, John
Hattersheiot, Frank Spillman, Henry Blattner, and Dr. H. K. Rachford.
the first board meeting, members moved to select a suitable location
for the fairgrounds. A committee reported that 10 acres of land laying
northeast and adjacent to Alexandria could be secured from John Stevens
for $500. The president was directed to buy the land.
board then purchased 25,000 feet of hemlock lumber for construction of
the fairgrounds. The material was transported up the Ohio River to the
mouth of Twelve Mile Creek and was hauled from there to the
fairgrounds. An arena was built at a cost of $1000 by Benjamin Smith,
Joseph Shaw, and Frank Spillman. It stood until it was replaced in the
Upon completion of the original arena,
barns holding 75 stalls were built to house the cattle and horses to be
exhibited at the Fair. October 14 to 16 were the dates set for the very
The Board members were so pleased with
the turnout that at the conclusion of the fair, they voted and decided
the Alexandria Fair would be an annual event, with opening day of the
next Fair set for September 27, 1857.
County Agriculture Society was incorporated with capital stock of $5000
by an act of the Kentucky General Assembly on January 28, 1858. The
cooperators of the Society were Benjamin Smith, Alexander Caldwell,
John T. Parker, Thomas Jones, Samuel McIntosh, Samuel Wright, Benjamin
F. Riles, Henry Blattner, Edward Morin, Frederick Brown, Daniel
Pollock, Benjamin Beall, Samuel Smith, and Foster Byrd.
Campbell County Agriculture Society and the Alexandria Fair were
founded by private individuals and they remain as non-profit
Local residents and fair
board members were so determined to keep the event going that only a
Civil War would hinder the presentation of the fair. It was during this
period of time that the subject of handling Confederate money occupied
the attention of the board of directors. Disposition of this money was
placed in the hands of committee members James Horner, Charles Murnan,
and Joseph White. During the Civil War, John C. Youtsey acted as
president of the Fair Board.
In 1866, the popular
Floral Hall, later to be known as the Exhibit Hall, was build by Frank
Spillman. Farmers would often display their exhibits in entire barrels
that were cut in half. Visitors could go through the Floral Hall and
see molasses, honey, flour, and other commodities displayed.
the years, the Fair Board endeavered to present novel entertainments
for fair-goers, In 1875, the Silver Cornet Band of New Richmond, Ohio
was a hit at the Fair. A ring of buffaloes was shown at the fair in
1876, causing a stir and proving a good drawing card.
Agriculture Society was always the driving force behind the fair. The
Fair became a chance for farmers to show off their harvests and best
animals, and to socialize. The Fairs early appeal was to farmers, but
with the invention of the Automobile, people from the city started to
attend the Fair as well.
The Fair grew steadily into
the twentieth century, and drew people from all over northern Kentucky
and Cincinnati. Part of the fair’s success was attributed to the fine
saddle horses and cattle, along with the agriculture exhibits. They
were and are among the finest in the state.
element of the Fair’s success was due to the festive family atmosphere
apparent each year. Fair-goers might arrive in a horse and buggy,
tether the horse beneath the trees for the rest of the day, enjoy a
day’s worth of fun, and return the next day. Visitors would spend all
day at the Fair, but leave at dark; electric lights were not installed
until the late 1930’s. Nonetheless, people looked forward to the Fair
all summer long.
Everyone has his or her favorite
recollections of the Fair. For some, it was the merry-go-round, the
carnival atmosphere, walking aong the promenade of the arena, the
grounds with the large shade trees, or the music from various bands.
For others, the food was the main attraction: dinners at the dining
hall, popcorn, soft drinks, sandwiches, and other treats. Many recall
the horse show, especially the popular and exciting roadster rings.
World War I and into the 1920s, the Fair fell on hard financial times,
but under the leadership of George Moock, a dairy man from Southgate
and Herman Carman of Ft. Thomas, the Fair thrived once again. Moock,
elected president in 1929, surrounded himself with an enterprising
board of progressive farmers and businessmen and set to work to restore
the Fair and its old-time activities. So great was the resurgence that
the board officers were honored by the presence of Kentucky Governor
Flem D. Sampson in 1930.
For some, the Fair had an
even greater importance in the 1930s. During the Depression, it was a
gathering place for people to meet and enjoy inexpensive entertainment.
Between 1933 and 1947, many improvements were made to the Fair. In
October 1947, the Board moved to construct a new grandstand, and it was
completed in time for the 1948 fair.
1956, the Fair opened Friday evenings and continued until labor day.
City water lines were laid during the summer of 1958 assuring plenty of
water at the fairgrounds. Prior to that time, the only source of water
was from cisterns and water trucks.
improvements and new features followed in the 1960s. Beef cattle
classes, beauty contests, and special attractions such as greased pig
contests, jack rabbit chases, calf scrambles, and special appearences
by local celebrities brightened the 1960s Alexandria Fairs. A welcome
improvement came in 1965 when sanitary restrooms were added to the
Tragedy struck the Fair in 1972 when the
grandstand burned. The wooden structure was replaced by an all-concrete
grandstand and the circular arena with an oval track. A new dining room
and exhibition hall also were built. Although the Fair was ready to
welcome patrons in 1973, the rebuilding of the facilities was an
unexpected and burdensome debt.
The fair exists today
to bring enjoyment to present and future generations and to be the
basis for many more pleasant memories for its loyal patrons.