yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee


Henderson County Fair Association

[The following was copied from the 1997 fair program.]

In September 28, 1932, the Henderson County Fair Association was chartered by the State of Tennessee for the purpose of promoting agriculture and better livestock in Henderson County. The five original members were Mr. J.F. Stewart, Mr. A.S. Montgomery, Mr. J.T. Stewart, Mr. WA. Lawler and Mr. W.H. Holland. These gentlemen were some the leading citizens of Lexington and Henderson County and were very much for anything which was for the betterment of the community and its people. They named Mr. Griff P. Dodds to the Board of Directors to serve with them.

Mr. A.S. Montgomery was president of the Association; also he was a leading merchant and school beard member. Mr. J.F. Stewart was better known as "Uncle Frank" and he was also known as "The Hat Salesman". He was noted for the very fine stew he brewed up every November 11, Armistice Day, at the old Lexington High School gym. Mr. WA. Lawler, known as "Mr. Will", was the owner of the Elk Drug Store which was located where the First Bank now stands. Mr. Lawler was known far and wide for the manufacture and distribution of the tonic, "BIG TEN", one of the best known herb tonics of its time. Mr. WL. Holland was known as "Mr. WH.". He was mayor of Lexington and railway agent for the NC&St.L. Railroad. Mr. J.T. Stewart, better known as "Gaggy", was owner of Stewart Drug Company, and he was also a member of the Board of Aldermen and School Board member. Mr. Griff H. Dodds was a school teacher at Lexington High School and coach of the football team.

The first Fair was held in September, 1932 at the Fairgrounds behind the old Lexington High and City School Gym on First Street. The gym was used to house the exhibits. The Fair was held at this location until 1942, during World War II, it was suspended. In 1946, the Fair was held at the old ball park where the new Lexington High School now stands. After the 1946 Fair, the Association was deactivated.

Another fair was not held in Henderson County until 1963, when the VFW and the Lexington Jaycees held one on the Court Square which proved that Henderson County was ready for a County Fair again.

The Henderson County Fair has grown and prospered over the years until it has gained premier recognition in the Fair Association of Tennessee. It is widely known as "The Chittlin' Fair" and its fame has spread statewide. The Fair has been written up in the magazine, "Amusement Business" as a Fair with a heart and a helping hand to all worthwhile projects in the county. We say at our Fair, "If you grow it, show it!"

In 1964, with Mr. J.T. Stewart and Mr. Griff Dodds present a group of citizens representing Lexington and Henderson County were present at the City Hall and reactivated the Henderson County Association with Truman Lewis, Jr., being elected President: Gary Head, Secretary; J.T. Stewart, GrifT H. Dodds, Ben Hewlett, Curry Sullivan, Jack Hay, Claude Roberts, Clyde Reeves, Guy B. Arnis and A.M. Johnson, members of the Board of Directors. The 1964 Fair was held at the airport where a huge tent and the American Legion Building were used to house the exhibits. It is well remembered as one of the wettest fairs ever to be held in Henderson County, as water was some six to eight inches deep inside the tent for almost the entire week. However, this did not dampen the spirits of officers and directors of the Henderson County Fair Association. In 1965, the Fair was moved back to its original location of the old Fairgrounds on First Street, where a new building for exhibits (this building measures 100 feet by 50 feet) was built and an arena for the livestock. Every year since 1965, there has been some new improvements added to the facilities until now, the entire grounds are blacktopped.

In 1986, Truman Lewis, Jr. died and the Fair Director elected Otto Britt as their President and Fair Director. Britt had served as Vice-President for eight years.

Many improvements have been made at the Fairgrounds, a new stadium, new chain length fencing, 9 ft. blacktop strip 125 ft. long for wheelchair fair goers, a new stage, a new fair office building, new water system and fire plug. Last year new plant mix and this year. The old Slant building was leased to the Fair Board and the gym was remodeled to enable the Fair to grow. Watch and grow with us. The fair has grown every year and will continue to do so, as long as the people continue supporting it, as they are now. It is through the combined efforts of the civic and service organizations and County Agent's Office and many individuals too numerous to mention that this is so. Hoping 1997 will see you at the Fair with your exhibit, whatever it may be, as there is always a place for you at the Henderson County Fair. It is the only Fair in Tennessee that has always had a FREE gate. Visit our new Exhibition Building, with air conditioning, new restrooms, adjoining our Kiddy Land.

More about the Fair

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