County Fair ready to mark
50th anniversary beginning Sept. 12
By Bill Baughman
Former Gwinnett County Extension Agent
Special to GwinnettForum.com
(Editor's note: The 50th celebration of the
Gwinnett County Fair runs from Sept. 12-22 at the Fairgrounds in
Lawrenceville. Regular admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children.
However, as part of the anniversary celebration, the opening day
admission is 50 cents for everyone, the same admission as 50 years
ago! For more details on the fair, call 770-963-6522.)
AUG. 27, 2002 -- There is evidence in early Gwinnett newspapers
that fairs have been in existence in Gwinnett County for over 100
years, under a variety of names. And, in at least one year, two
fairs operated at the same time.
The current fair was formed beginning on Feb. 23,1952, when County
Agent Roy W. Garren, called a meeting for organizing a new county
fair. A board of directors was elected, which included the following:
1. T.T. Howington, Buford
2. David Kistner, Lithonia.
3. Uhland F. Freeman, Lawrenceville.
4. T. L. Harris, Lawrenceville.
5. Harrison Summerour, Duluth.
6. Troy Sharpton, Auburn.
7. W. A. Cooper, Grayson.
8. John B. Guthrie, Lawrenceville.
9. Carvis Williams, Snellville.
Directors were chosen to represent most sections of the county.
In a short time, County Commissioners would provide some funding
to help purchase a site for the fairgrounds, almost 50 businesses
and individuals would donate over $4,000 to erect a fence, and Vocational
Agriculture Teachers and the Veteran's Class would pay up to $200
of the cost of the charter and legal work.
This was a grass roots effort at it's best. But, there was no land
to build on. The old fairground was unavailable, as it would soon
become the site for the new Lawrenceville (now Central Gwinnett-Lawrenceville)
High School. The grand jury made a favorable report to the county
commissioners, recommending they help get the new association in
In 1953 directors purchased an 11.4-acre tract on Old Stone Mountain
Road for $2,000, of which the county commissioners had approved
$1.500. The Fair obtained a loan for construction and improving
the fairgrounds, with each director endorsing the note individually.
Admission for the first Fair was set at 50 cents for adults, 25
cents for children, and 25 cents for parking.
Governor Herman Talmadge would be the principal speaker. Seventeen
Home Demonstration Clubs participated. Industrial exhibits would
be in a tent. Attendance was estimated at 12,000. That first fair
showed a net profit of $4,235.54. .
The first Beauty Contest was held in 1955, with Shirley Wheeler
of Buford named Miss Gwinnett, out of 50 contestants. In 1963, Home
Demonstrations Clubs asked for better protection for exhibits on
display, and asked for additional restroom facilities to include
shower space, to keep show personnel from bathing in the exhibit
building rest rooms.
Also, significantly in 1963, it was announced the Association was
out of debt.
In 1964 a check was issued to the Vocational Agricultural Teachers
for $810, which paid in full the amount that had been loaned to
the association at the beginning. After the fair, a decision was
made to purchase the 224.88-acre A. T. Roberts estate, on the Lawrenceville
- Grayson Highway. Directors sold the greater part of the land to
raise funds to develop 85 acres at the new fairgrounds. The first
fair was held at the new site in 1972.
The attendance at the 2001 Fair was 220,000.
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