History of the State Fair
The First Greenbrier County Fair:
The Declaration of Independence was only 78 years old when the first recorded fair was conducted in Greenbrier Valley, Virginia. In 1854, the Greenbrier Agricultural Society began organizing and conducting an annual fair where agricultural accomplishments could be displayed. This popular event attracted entries of livestock, produce and household items from farms throughout the area.
The first fair was held at Mr. Nesmith’s Grove, on approximately 2 acres of land. The location of this event was determined by current historians to be at the corner of Washington and Lee Streets in Lewisburg. About 150′ northeast of the present location of Lewisburg United Methodist Church. A transcript of the minutes from the first event include:
(Transcript of Greenbrier Agricultural Society Minutes) The first recorded fair was conducted in Greenbrier Valley, Virginia, beginning August 29, 1854, at Mr. Nesmith’s Grove. The Greenbrier Agricultural Society was called to order by, President of the Society, Louis A. Alderson, at 11 o’clock A.M. – which being done, the President of the Society introduced to the assembled crowd, William H. McFarland Esq. of Richmond City, who had been invited and accepted the invitation to deliver an address to the Society of the First Annual Exhibition, after which the Company partook of the sumptuous repast prepared by the Ladies of Lewisburg and vicinity – the judges of the various Classes of Stock and Articles entered to contend for premiums and entered upon the duties for which they were selected – at half past 5 o’clock P.M. it was moved that the exhibition be closed until 10 o’clock tomorrow morning which was carried –
At 10 o’clock A.M., August 30th, the Society was again called to order by President Alderson – at 11 o’clolck A.M., Dr. E.P. White of Caroline County, delivered a very interesting address and was elected an Honorary member of the Society.
At 2 o’clock P.M., the judges rendered awards for the various Classes of Animals, cattle: cows, bulls, heifers, steers and oxe; horses: stallions, brood mares, saddle mares, colts, jacks, jennets and mules; sheep; & chickens. Also included in the judged entries were agricultural implements: plows, ox yoke & wheat fans; fruits & dairy products; household manufactures: quilts, woolen items, embroidery, bread, corned beef & bacon ham; and finally, domestic manufactures: bureaus, bed stands, saddles, harnesses, flour, cooking stoves, oil painting and penmanship.