Marion County Fairgrounds
Doug Telford, President - Loyd Maxey, Vice President - Russell Vandeveer, Secretary
Charles Fulton, Treasurer - Terry Mulvany, Assistant Secretary
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MARION COUNTY AGRICULTURE FAIR
AUGUST 1 - 9
Little Egypt Shows Carnival will be at the 2015, 75th Marion County Fair!
2014 Marion County Fair Queen Morgan Belcher (Picture from WJBD)
Thank you for your interest in the Marion County Agriculture Fair. The buttons on the top of each page and information on down this home page will direct you to specific areas about the fair and fairgrounds. Should you have any questions or are unable to find information you are looking for, please feel free to contact us at the fair office. Phone number is 618-548-1251 , mailing address is P.O. Box 21, Salem, Illinois, 62881
ATM On The Grounds During Major Events!
Little Egypt Shows Carnival on the MIDWAY
Saturday August 1 - August 8, 2015.
Available During The 2015 Marion County Fair Ticket Sales!
Bits And Pieces Of Fair History
Before the 1850's, there were no railroads or good roads in the area. Therefore, agriculture was not a means of making a living since there were no way to get produce to market. People raised grain for their own animals and had home gardens for their own use. When better roads and railroads came to Marion County, farming became a viable means of making a living. The Ohio & Mississippi Railroad came in 1857, and the Illinois Central Railroad came soon after.
On March 24, 1853, the Marion County Agricultural Society was founded and the first fair was held October 25 & 26, 1855. The fairgrounds was near Bryan Park here in Salem. A big tent was used that had been used earlier at the Illinois State Fair held in Chicago that year. In 1858, the State Fair was held in Centralia and Central City. The Siamese twins were a big attraction at that fair. The fair also featured hot air balloon rides. The balloon got loose with two small children in the basket. It came down near Mt. Vernon, and the children were fine.
In 1857, the Marion County Agricultural Society purchased 12 acres for a fairgrounds (Tully Park). The fair was held on those grounds until 1880 under the name of the Marion County Agricultural Society. Accounts of the fairgrounds say that it compared well with any other fairgrounds in southern Illinois. The amphitheatre could accommodate a thousand persons. There was an excellent half-mile dirt track. The fair was held each year until 1862 when it was cancelled because that troops of the 111th Illinois Volunteers were training on the fairgrounds. It was cancelled in 1887 due to drought and cinch bugs destroying crops. In 1896, it was cancelled because William Jennings Bryan was running for president.
In 1909, the Fair Association gave the fairgrounds (Tully Park) to the City of Salem to be used as a park. After 1909 the fair was held in different places and known by different names-County Fair, Farmers Institute, and Farmers & Teachers Institute. It was held in Centralia in 1915 and from 1918 to 1925 it was held in Alma at Allmon's Grove. In 1926 is was in Patoka. It returned to Tully Park in the mid-1930's.
In 1939, the fair was held in downtown Salem, just west of the Court House. The garden produce and handmade articles were exhibited in the armory, which is now the Salem Moose Club.
In 1940, the fair was held in Bryan Park with the garden produce and handmade articles exhibited in the new (at the time) armory on North College Street.
Businessman Bob Hancock and an interested group of people met and petitioned the Marion County Board for the establishment of a fairgrounds. They sent 250 letters out to farmers, businessmen, 4-H leaders and FFA leaders to back the effort. On March 13, 1940, the Marion County Board of Supervisors voted to purchase the old Salem Airport and 20 adjoining acres for a permanent home for the Marion County Fair, giving the fair approximately 65 acres.
On April 14, 1941, these same farmers and businessmen met at the Marion County Court House and organized the Marion County Agricultural Fair Association. The first officers were : President-E.E. Irwin, Vice President-J.V. Davis, Secretary-C. Glen Jones, Treasurer-O.A. James. E.E. "Gene" Irwin was president of the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs from 1934 until 1941. There is one living member of the First Fair Board, Jack Summerville.
The Fair Board leased the grounds from the County for a few years and then bought the fairgrounds in 1949. The first fair on the present fairgrounds was August 19-23, 1941. The estimated attendance was 20,000 and offered $7,000 in premiums. By comparison, the attendance at the 2010 fair was 25,000 and premiums offered were $104,397.
Harness Racing was very big in the 1940's and 1950's and the Marion County Fair had one of the best 1/2 mile tracks in the state. Several trainers, drivers, owners and horses that appeared here or raced here are in the Harness Racing Hall of Fame. The late Russell Rose, Salem's own, was inducted in 2005. Some of the horses that raced at the Marion County Fair went on to race in big races, including the Hamiltonian.
The fair has had it's ups and downs. At one point in the 1960's, the fair board almost sold the fairgrounds to pay off the debt and dissolve the Fair Association. However, 2 or 3 men came forward and saved the fair. Two of those were Ray Vandeveer and Paul Hester. Ray Vandeveer's sons are members of the fair today. Ray Vandeveer, Jr. is the Beef Superintendent, Russell is the present Fair Secretary and also a Director-at-Large of the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs and Rolland Vandeveer is Supt. of Junior Livestock. Paul Hester's son, Dale, had served on the board for 44 years.
In 1980, the Marion County Fair Queen Pageant was started. There have been 31 queens crowned with the 1987 Queen, Lori Vaughn, being Miss Illinois County Fair Queen. Several of our queens have placed in the top 13 at put the the State Convention in Springfield.
On April 19, 1996, the fairgrounds was hit by a tornado that destroyed much of the fairgrounds including the horse barns, exhibit building, grandstand roof, fair office and the electrical system. The fair board went to work and was able to put the fairgrounds back together and opened the fair on time just a little over three months later.
In the past years we have had some of the greatest acts in country music on our stage in front of the grandstand....some of the following have performed....Porter Waggoner, Dolly Parton, Bill Anderson, Loretta Lynn, Marty Robbins, the Statler Brothers, Oak Ridge Boys, Leroy Van Dyke, Mickey Gilley, Eddie Rabbit, Doug Supernaw, Tracy Byrd, Michael Peterson, Mike Snider, Little Jimmy Dickens, Minnie Pearl, Roy Acuff and Merle Travis. Also, the Royal Lipizzan Stallions have performed at the fairgrounds.
The Fair Board Members over the years have been successful in producing a good entertaining fair for the people of Marion County to enjoy. The present fair board is made up of 38 men and women dedicated to having a good fair each year. The present officers are Doug Telford-President, Loyd Maxey-Vice President, Russell Vandeveer-Secretary, Charles Fulton-Treasurer and Terry Mulvany-Assistant Secretary.
We think we have one of the nicest county fairgrounds in Illinois. In addition to the annual fair, we host the Farm Safety Day in April, Raccoon Ramblers Camping Club in April, the Shrine Circus in June, the Antique Power Days in September, The PKC Super Stakes Coon Hunt in September, the Airstream Camper Rally in October and the PKC World Coon Hunt in October.
County Fairs are for education and promotion of agriculture, but many county fairs are no longer rural oriented. In past years, most of the people attending the fair had some connection with the farm-grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins. Today, a high percentage of fair attendees have no connection with farming or agriculture. We are competing with TV, Computers, internet, movies, unlimited travel opportunities, sports, fast food and many activities that did not exist in the past.
The Marion County Fair has survived tornadoes, windstorms, rain-out nights, drought, extreme heat, floods, the depression and wars. We hope that the fair will continue, we ask you to support and attend the Marion County Agriculture Fair in the coming years and attend and support other events being held at the fairgrounds.
Salem's Overnight Accommodations: Stay Over Night During Events At The Fairgrounds!
Badollet House Bed and Breakfast: 310 North Washington, Phone 618-548-3412
Comfort Inn: 1800 West Main Street, Phone 618-548-2177
Continental Motel: 1600 East Main Street, Phone 618-548-3090
Salem Inn: 1812 West Main Street, Phone 618-548-4212
Super 8 Motel: 118 Woods Lane, Phone 618-548-5882
Listen to NOAA WEATHER RADIO LIVE on the Alma Weather Station Web Site.
Click Here > http://www.daybreakimagery.com/weather/noaaradio.htm
VISIT THE EXHIBIT BUILDING DURING THE FAIR!
Building and Grounds
Contact Us For Current Rates.
MARION COUNTY AGRICULTURAL FAIR LINKS
Our E-Mail Address Is email@example.com
2015 Demo Derby Entry Form, Rules and Regulations on Program or Ticket Links.