NEW CASTLE — A lot has changed over the past 60 years.
Gas isn’t 20 cents a gallon anymore. We’ve gone through a handful of presidents. And the popular music sure is different.
But one thing that hasn’t changed is the tradition of family at the Lawrence County Fair.
Former fair director Don Wilson, who joined the Lawrence County Fair in its second year, said it’s all about the kids.
“I figured if we saved three kids a year from drugs coming out here and doing farm work, it was well worth everything I did. That’s the way I feel about it,” he said.
That tradition began in 1953 when it was proposed that a permanent farm show be established in Lawrence County. The first Farm Show was held at the J.R. Rick Stock Farm as a two-day event in August 1954, showcasing 64 exhibitors.
The Farm Show continued on the Rick Farm as a two- and eventually four-day event before the fair board decided it needed a permanent home for the show, and the Rick Farm was not for sale.
In 1966, the board discovered a 96-acre tract of land across from Laurel High School was available. For $25,000, the fair board was able to make the Enos Farm the permanent home for the Lawrence County Fairgrounds.
Through the decades, the fair has seen years of both growth and decline, but overall, directors say, it has become one of the most successful fairs in the United States.
John Kusnierczyk, who joined the fair board in 1964 and remains a member today, said the fair is known all over the country for its dairy and livestock shows.
One of the factors that keeps the fair so successful is competition, according to Kusnierczyk. “It’s the competitive factor. If money was of no concern, we’d have one heck of a fair,” he said.