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DANBURY TIMES

DANBURY FAIR
1869-1981

The Great Danbury Fair
Have you ever been to an agricultural fair? An agricultural fair is where farmers brought their crops and animals to show, trade and to compete in contests.
Going to fairs was a special event in the early 1800’s. People in our area went to the Fairfield County Agricultural fair.
This fair moved from town to town. In 1869 Danburians became tired of traveling to the fair. They started the
Great Danbury Fair which was a major annual event in Danbury for over a hundred years. It attracted visitors from near and far. After some time 100 acres of land were purchased for the fair grounds.
The Fair had many attractions. The Farmer’s tent was very popular. It was where most of the contest
entries were exhibited. People entered vegetables, baked goods, and other homemade items for the
judges to sample. The Manufacturing Section displayed hats, boots, saddles and wagons.
A popular attraction was the horse races. Over the years, many attractions were added to the fair.
Admission in 1887 was 25 cents for adults and 15 cents for children. Inside the Farmer’s Tent.

By 1901, the fair was attracting thousands of people. It was becoming very popular. People traveled
to the Fair by streetcars, automobiles and trains. In 1908, electricity came to the fairgrounds so
people could stay longer each day.
John Leahy
From the time John Leahy was 5 years old in 1900 until he died in 1974, he attended the Danbury
Fair every year. In 1942, he received a portion of the Danbury Fair in exchange for an overdue fuel bill.
By 1945 Leahy was the major owner of the fair.

The next year, Leahy and C. Irving Jarvis began making improvements to the fair. They planted
flowers, fixed up buildings and midways. They added hard surface driveways, fences, and new lighting.
Fees for parking and coin boxes in the bathrooms were removed. They wanted the Danbury Fair to be
the most beautiful fairground in the East. As the economy in Danbury began to change, there were fewer farms and more factories. Leahy recognized that things were changing. Even though most Danburians were no longer growing produce, he wanted families to have the opportunity to enjoy the agricultural competitions. People continued to bring vegetables and other things they grew or made to be judged at the fair.

As a little boy, Leahy dreamed of having his own circus. While he never owned a circus, he fulfilled his lifelong dream by running the fair. There were big top attractions and the daily parade. Leahy led the daily Grand Parade himself. Eventually the length of the fair was extended from six to nine days. As the fair continued to grow, there were car races, rides, food, sideshows and dancing. Danbury school
children displayed their art in a special show. There were contests with prizes for the biggest pumpkin, best sewing, or the tastiest cake. People ate foods such as hot dogs, pizza,and hot apple pie. Stock cars races began in 1951.
The last Danbury Fair was in 1981. Later the Danbury Fair Mall was built on the same site and named in its honor. . The Grand Parade included the famous Clydesdale
horses.

Danbury Fair Timeline
In 1899, there were only 23 people in Danbury who did not attend the fair. According to one
report, they were all in jail!
1869 First Annual Fair and Cattle Show was in a small tent borrowed from the Barnum and Bailey
Circus.
1878 Electricity came to the fair for the exhibitors of
machinery.
1879 The New York and New England railroad brought
people to the fair.
1880 Horse trotting races came to the fair.
1881 Children competed for the most attractive cage of pet
animals and the best exhibition of butterflies.
1885 Farmers brought 45 varieties of apples for
competition, 31 kinds of pears, 56 kinds of grapes, and 23
kinds of cake.
1887 Admission to the fair was 25 cents.
1889 The schools were closed and the factories were shut
down so that everyone could go to the fair.
1895 The trolley track was laid to the fairgrounds.
1896 The first horseless carriage to be seen in Danbury was shown
at the fair.
1904 Automobile races and motorcycle races were added to the fair.
1908 The fairgrounds were electrified.
1911 Hammond made a thrilling airplane flight in dangerous winds.
1914 The last horse carriage show took place.
1918 The flu epidemic closed the Fair.
1932 The fair was opened for the first time on a Sunday.
1941 Fire destroyed the big top.
1946 John W. Leahy started making changes to the fair.
1951 Modified stock car racing came to the fair and
continued until the end of the fair in 1981.
1954 The telephone answering machine was exhibited for
the first time.
1974 Charles Ives Centennial Concert conducted by
Leonard Bernstein was held on the fairgrounds in July.
1974 John Leahy died in March.
1981 The last Danbury Fair was held.

 

The Week of June 15

Paulding County Fair (Paulding)* June 17-21
Pickaway County Fair (Circleville)* June 21-28
The Week of June 22
Putnam County Fair (Ottawa)* June 27-29
The Week of June 29
Marion County Fair (Marion)* June 29-July 5
Clinton County Fair (Wilmington)* July 5-12
Lawrence County Fair (Proctorville) July 5-12
Madison County Fair (London)* July 5-12
The Week of July 6
Harrison County Fair (Cadiz)* July 7-13
Trumbull County Fair (Cortland) July 7-13
Logan County Fair (Bellefontaine)* July 8-13
Jackson County Fair (Wellston)* July 11-19
Crawford County Fair (Bucyrus)*# July 12-19
Franklin County Fair (Hilliard)* July 12-19
The Week of July 13
Adams County Fair (West Union) July 13-19
Perry County Fair (New Lexington) July 14-19
Warren County Fair (Lebanon)* July 14-19
Ottawa County Fair (Oak Harbor)* July 14-20
Carroll County Fair (Carrollton)* July 15-20
Clark County Fair (Springfield) July 18-25
The Week of July 20
Butler County Fair (Hamilton) July 20-26
Clermont County Fair (Owensville)* July 20-26
Knox County Fair (Mt. Vernon)* July 20-26
Shelby County Fair (Sidney)* July 20-26
Vinton County Fair (McArthur) July 20-26
Fayette County Fair (Washington C.H.)* July 21-26
Union County Fair (Marysville)* July 21-27
Seneca County Fair (Tiffin)* July 21-28
Lucas County Fair (Maumee)* July 22-27
Summit County Fair (Tallmadge)* July 22-27
Pike County Fair (Piketon)* July 25-Aug. 2
Preble County Fair (Eaton)* July 26-Aug. 2
The Week of July 27
Auglaize County Fair (Wapakoneta)* July 27-Aug. 2
Greene County Fair (Xenia)* July 27-Aug. 2
Medina County Fair (Medina)* July 27-Aug. 3
Gallia County Fair (Gallipolis) July 28-Aug. 2
Columbiana County Fair (Lisbon)* July 28-Aug. 3
Wood County Fair (Bowling Green)* July 29-Aug. 4
Hamilton County Fair (Carthage) July 30-Aug. 2
Ohio State Fair (Columbus)* July 30-Aug. 10
Champaign County Fair (Urbana)* Aug. 1-8
Athens County Fair (Athens)* Aug. 1-9
Hartford Independent Fair (Licking Co.)* Aug. 2-9
Ross County Fair (Chillicothe)* Aug. 2-9
The Week of August 3
Richland County Fair (Mansfield)* Aug. 3-9
Scioto County Fair (Lucasville) Aug. 4-9
Cuyahoga County Fair (Berea)* Aug. 4-10
Ashtabula County Fair (Jefferson)* Aug. 5-10
Erie County Fair (Sandusky) Aug. 5-10
Attica Independent Fair (Seneca Co.)* Aug. 6-10
Henry County Fair (Napoleon)* Aug. 8-14
Mercer County Fair (Celina)* Aug. 8-14
Miami County Fair (Troy)* Aug. 8-14
The Week of August 10
Muskingum County Fair (Zanesville)* Aug. 10-16
Holmes County Fair (Millersburg) Aug. 11-16
Huron County Fair (Norwalk) Aug. 11-16
Meigs County Fair (Pomeroy)* Aug. 11-16
Jefferson County Fair (Smithfield) Aug. 12-17
Lake County Fair (Painesville)* Aug. 12-17
Allen County Fair (Lima)* Aug. 15-23
Darke County Fair (Greenville)* Aug. 15-23
Defiance County Fair (Hicksville)* Aug. 16-23
The Week of August 17
Monroe County Fair (Woodsfield)* Aug. 18-23
Lorain County Fair (Wellington)* Aug. 18-24
Portage County Fair (Randolph) Aug. 19-24
Sandusky County Fair (Fremont) Aug. 19-24
The Week of August 24
Noble County Fair (Caldwell)* Aug. 25-30
Morrow County Fair (Mt. Gilead)* Aug. 25-Sept. 1
Stark County Fair (Canton)* Aug. 26-Sept. 1
Hancock County Fair (Findlay)* Aug. 27-Sept. 1
Mahoning County Fair (Canfield)* Aug. 27-Sept. 1
Montgomery County Fair (Dayton)* Aug. 27-Sept. 1
Richwood Independent Fair (Union Co.)* Aug. 27-Sept. 1
Van Wert County Fair (Van Wert)* Aug. 27-Sept. 3
Geauga County Fair (Burton)* Aug. 28-Sept. 1
Fulton County Fair (Wauseon)*# Aug. 29-Sept. 4
Washington County Fair (Marietta)* Aug. 30-Sept. 2
The Week of August 31
Highland County Fair (Hillsboro) Aug. 31-Sept. 6
Morgan County Fair (McConnelsville)* Sept. 2-6
Hardin County Fair (Kenton)* Sept. 2-7
Albany Independent Fair (Athens Co.) Sept. 3-7
Belmont County Fair (St. Clairsville) Sept. 3-7
Wayne County Fair (Wooster)* Sept. 6-11
Williams County Fair (Montpelier)* Sept. 6-13
The Week of September 7
Hocking County Fair (Logan) Sept. 8-13
Guernsey County Fair (Old Washington)* Sept. 8-14
Wyandot County Fair (Upper Sandusky)* Sept. 9-14
Bellville Independent Fair (Richland Co.) Sept. 10-13
Delaware County Fair (Delaware)* Sept. 13-20
The Week of September 14
Ashland County Fair (Ashland)* Sept. 14-20
Tuscarawas County Fair (Dover)* Sept. 15-21
The Week of September 21
Brown County Fair (Georgetown) Sept. 22-27
Barlow Independent Fair (Washington Co.) Sept. 26-28
Coshocton County Fair (Coshocton)* Sept. 26-Oct. 2
The Week of September 28
Loudonville Independent Fair (Ashland Co.) Sept. 30-Oct. 4
The Week of October 5
Fairfield County Fair (Lancaster)* Oct. 5-11
2008 Ohio Agricultural Fair Chronological Schedule
This chronological order is such, whereby the respective fairs are listed
under the week they are either held or begin.
* Harness Racing