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AUGUST 11, 2022



History of a Fair

Greenbrier Valley Fair
Showing at the Greenbrier Valley Fair

The sweet smell of hay, the hardened & tanned hands of the men showing their livestock and the beautiful craftsmanship of fine needlework  that can only be handed down from generation to generation, is a sampling of what you would have seen at the first recorded Fair in Greenbrier Valley, Virginia in 1854.

The Declaration of Independence was only 78 years old when the Greenbrier Agricultural Society began organizing and having an annual fair where agricultural accomplishments could be displayed.  The first Fair was conducted 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.

Robert E. Lee & Traveller

The ‘Traditions you Treasure’ began many years ago and evolved as much as the locations have.  In 1858, the Lewisburg event gained the distinction of being called “a fair of proportions” and featured many entries, including an iron-gray yearling colt that took home the Blue Ribbon.  That same colt would later gain fame as Robert E. Lee’s warhorse, Traveller!  Also on display during this same show, was the first sewing machine ever brought to the County.

The formation of West Virginia during the Civil War placed Greenbrier County in the new state and it was in 1869 that a Fair was conducted for the first time in Lewisburg, West Virginia.  Once again a famous animal was entered in the Fair, as the Ludington Steer took home top honors.  This Shorthorn Steer, owned by Mr. Samuel C. Ludington, was the largest steer in the world, weighing 4,450 pounds!  The steer was noted for being “…so broad across the back that a half-bushel of shelled corn could be poured on its back and not a grain would roll off.”

The tradition of entering livestock, home arts, agricultural produce, equine and more, for judging is what the State Fair of WV is built on.  Through the years Fairgoers have enjoyed bringing their families to enjoy all of the sights, sounds, and yes, the delicious smells of the Fair.  These are the Traditions that we embrace and love sharing with you every year.

Look for future posts to continue the story of the State Fair of WV!