Kentucky Colored Fairs
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture attempted to collect data on the associations that held fairs in Kentucky, but for the most part the data was not reported. A second report was published in 1879 wherein three Colored fair associations and their fairs were reported: Shelby, Bourbon, and Clark Counties. They are listed on p. 419 of the Second Annual Report of the State Bureau of Agriculture, Horticulture, and Statistics (1879), by W. J. Davie [available full-text at Google Books].
In addition to the three counties listed in the annual publication, there were many more Colored fairs that took place around the state, beginning in the late 1800s. The fairs created business for the cities in which they were held and for the railroad companies. When a Colored fair was held, many times there would be special train services offered from various cities around the state to the fair location, sometimes with reduced round trip rates.
- In 1869, the Lexington Colored Fair, the largest in the state, was held on Georgetown Pike. It may have been the first Colored fair in Kentucky. [See the 1869 Lexington Colored Fair entry in NKAA. Lexington is located in Fayette County.]
- In 1870, the first colored fair for Simpson and Logan Counties was held. The fair did well for three years, netting $3,000 in 1870, then profits fell off. The fair had been organized by the Agriculture and Mechanical Association in Simpson and Logan Counties.
Two of the founders of the organization were Elijah P. Marrs and his brother H. C. Marrs. The project was started with $750 the brothers raised by selling 50 subscriptions (stock) that went for $15 each. H. C. Marrs was president and E. P. Marrs, secretary; James Flint and James Tyree secured the property for the fair, purchasing 42 acres for $4,200.
When the profits began to fall, E. P. Marrs sold his stock. [Source: Ante-bellum free Negroes as race leaders in Virginia and Kentucky during Reconstruction (thesis), by C. B. King, p. 134.]
- In 1874, the Kentucky General Assembly set restrictions against selling beverages and alcohol within one mile of the Bourbon County Colored Fair. The fair was managed by the Agricultural and Mechanical Association of the Colored People of Bourbon County. [See the Agricultural and Mechanical Association of the Colored People of Bourbon County entry in NKAA.]
- In 1878, a Colored Fair was held in Abdallah Park in Harrison County. [See the Harrison County Colored Fair entry in NKAA.]
- In 1879, a Colored Fair was held in Clark County. In 1910, the Clark County Colored Fair Association was formed with President J. C. Hopewell, Vice-President John Pervine, Recording Secretary C. H. Curry, Corresponding Secretary H. P. Alexander, Treasurer J. W. Bates, and Assistant Treasurer Woodson Miller. The organization planned their first fair for 1911.
- In 1897 a Colored Fair was held in Springfield. The fair was raided by Sheriff Baughman and his posse to disband gaming operations: "sure things," "a wheel of fortune," "bee hive," and the "tin horse steal." In 1900 the Washington County Colored Fair Association held its fair September 20-23. The fair was referred to as the Springfield Colored Fair and as the Washington County Colored Fair. In 1902 and 1903 the fair was a loss financially as attendance was down.
- In 1898 the Danville Colored Fair was held August 24-27. [Danville is located in Boyle County.]
- In 1898, the Stanford Colored Fair was held September 30-October 1. [Stanford is located in Lincoln County.]
- In 1899, the Louisville Colored Fair was held during August. Round-trip train fare was available from Mt. Vernon to Louisville for August 25 and 26. In 1900, the L & N Railroad provided a special rate from Hopkinsville with return on August 15 and 16 from Louisville. In 1910, the Louisville Colored Fair Association held its fair September 21-24. The Illinois Central provided round trip train service from Hopkinsville to Louisville for $5.38. [Louisville is located in Jefferson County.]
- In 1900, Professor J. F. Gray from Russellville traveled to Earlington to advertise the second fair to be held in Guthrie, October 11-13, by the Guthrie Colored Fair Association. [Guthrie is located in Todd County.]
- In 1900, the Hustonville Colored Fair Company had a loss of 35 cents on its fair held August 15-18. The fair included a cake walk and a baseball game. [Hustonville is located in Lincoln County.]
- In 1900, the Illinois Central provided round trip train service from Hopkinsville to Paducah for the Colored Fair, September 12-14. In 1908 a Colored fair association was formed in Paducah with the intention of having a fair in either August or September of 1909. [Paducah is located in McCracken County.]
- In 1900, the first Colored Fair was held in Richmond by the Young Men's Agricultural and Mechanical Association. The event was held at the Richmond Fair Grounds, August 23-25. In 1901 E. M. Embry was president of the organization and B. F. Stone was secretary. [Richmond is located in Madison County.]
- In 1900, the Shelbyville Colored Fair was held September 5-7, one week after the Shelbyville Fair for whites. Southern Railroad offered services at low rates from various cities to Shelbyville. In 1924, the New Colored Shelby County Association, Inc. held their third annual fair. [See the New Colored Shelby County Fair Association, Inc. entry in NKAA.]
- In 1900 the Stamping Ground Colored Fair was again being held at Wash's Woods. [See the Stamping Ground Colored Fair entry in NKAA.] [Stamping Ground is located in Scott County.]
- In 1901, the Newburg Colored Fair was held in September. The Illinois Central provided round-trip service from Hopkinsville, with a transfer in Princeton, then on to Louisville, with a return on September 6 at $2.50. [Newburg is located in Jefferson County.]
- In 1901, the Owensboro Colored Fair was held August 29-31. For those attending the fair from Beaver Dam, a round-trip train ticket cost $1.25. In 1903 the Owensboro Colored Fair was held in October. [Owensboro is located in Daviess County.]
- In 1902 and in 1903, the Lincoln County and Garrard County Colored Fair Association held its fair at the Stanford Fair Grounds. In 1903 the fair was held August 27-29 in the woodlands on Danville Avenue on the property of Mrs. Nora M. Goodknight. The fair association officers were W. M. Jones, President; Alex Miller, Vice-President; W. H. Harris, Secretary; and J. Miller Broaddus, Assistant-Secretary.
In 1905, the combined county fair was held in Lancaster, August 24-26. By 1906, the union was dissolved and Lincoln and Garrard Counties were holding their own Colored fairs in their respective counties.
- In 1903 the Colored Fair held in Frankfort was not a success. In 1905 the Frankfort Colored Fair was held September 12-16. During the fair the Ninth Battalion of the Ohio National Guard, an all African American unit, was to hold their annual encampment in Lexington rather than Frankfort. Lexington officials had sought and received permission from Kentucky Governor Beckham to allow the Ninth Battalion to enter the state bearing arms.
In 1906, the Colored Fair Association held its fair at Glenwood Park September 6-8. By 1908 the organization name had changed to the Frankfort County Colored Agricultural and Industrial Association. [Frankfort is located in Franklin County.]
- In 1904, the Henry County Colored Fair was held September 29-October 1. The L&N Railroad sold tickets to Eminence at a rate of one fair plus 25 cents for the round trip. [Source: "Eminence, Ky." in the column "L. and N. Special Rate Column within the Lexington Herald, 10/2/1904, p. 3].
- In 1905, the Harrodsburg Colored Fair was held, and in 1906 the Harrodsburg Colored Fair Association was included in the List of National, State, and Local Commercial Organizations, compiled by the Interstate Commerce Commission, p. 172 [Google Books]. [Harrodsburg is located in Mercer County.]
- In 1905 the Scott County Colored Fair was held August 9-12.
- In 1905 the Midway Colored Fair was held at the end of August, 1905. [Source: "The Midway Colored Fair...," Lexington Herald, 9/14/1905, p. 8.] [Midway is in Woodford County.]
- In 1906 the Hardin County Colored Fair was held in Elizabethtown September 28 and 29. The L&N Railroad offered round-trip service from Mt. Vernon to Elizabethtown for $3.85.
- In 1906, the Nelson County Colored Fair was led by 78-year old Jarvis Wilson.
- In 1907, the Christian County Colored Fair was held in Hopkinsville at the Horse Show grounds in September.
- In 1907, the success of the combined Lincoln and Garrard County Colored Fairs prompted a separate Colored Fair in Lancaster August 8-10. The Lancaster Fair Association was led by African Americans from Lancaster and Garrard County. The fair was canceled for 1910 by the association president George Morgan and secretary James B. Williams because of a misunderstanding about the cost of renting the fair grounds. [Lancaster is located in Garrard County.]
- In 1907, the first Laurel County Colored Fair was held September 27 and 28 in London. During the fair's baseball game, Russell Dyche, editor of the London Sentinel, was struck by a baseball and taken to Louisville for eye surgery.
- In 1908, a Colored Fair Association was being formed in Berea; it had hoped to hold a fair in September of that year. The Berea Fair Association voted to rent the fair grounds to the Colored association. [Berea is located in Madison County.]
- In 1908, the Knox County Colored Fair Association was incorporated in July and planned to hold its first fair, a two-day event, a few months later. The association executive members were President Jeff Etter, Vice President J. W. Mullins, Secretary Mary L. Jones, and Treasurer J. J. Croley. The Knox County Colored Fair Association was one of the few in Kentucky to have a woman on the executive committee.
- In 1909, the Montgomery County Colored Fair Association had its fair at the Mt. Sterling Fair Grounds September 22-25. [See the Montgomery County Colored Fair Association entry in NKAA.]
- In 1910, the Glasgow Colored Fair was held October 6-9. [Glasgow is located in Barren County.]
- In 1910, a Colored Fair Association was formed in Nicholasville, with the first meeting at the Knights of Pythias fair grounds on September 2 and 3. Nicholasville is located in Jessamine County. See Colored fair association...in "Colored Notes," Lexington Leader, 8/7/1910, p. 16.
For more see:
"Look out for them" in the News-Leader, 9/2/1897, p. 2.
"Colored Fair at Danville" in the Central Record, 7/15/1898, p. 1.
"The Stanford Journal says..." in the Central Record, 9/16/1898, p. 1.
"One fair for the round trip..." in the Mount Vernon Signal, 8/25/1899, p. 3.
"Our Colored citizens" in The Bee, 10/4/1900, p. 7.
"The Hustonville Colored Fair Company..." in the Central Record, 8/23/1900, p. 1.
"The Catalogues for the colored fair" in the Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, 7/27/1900, p. 3.
"Special rates via L & N..." in the Hopkinsville Kentuckian, 8/10/1900, p. 8.
"Account of Colored Fair..." in the Hopkinsville Kentuckian, 9/7/1900, p. 8.
"The first Colored fair ever..." in the Citizen, 8/29/1900, p. 1.
"Low rates via Southern Railroad" in the Mt. Sterling Advocate, 8/28/1900, p. 1.
"Colored Folks" in the News-Leader, 9/20/1900, p. 1.
"Colored fair here" in the Richmond Climax, 8/8/1900, p. 3.
"Louisville return $2.50" in the Hopkinsville Kentuckian, 8/16/1901, p. 7.
"On account of Owensboro Colored Fair..." in the Hartford Herald, 8/21/1901, p. 1.
"The Colored fair held here..." in the Frankfort Roundabout, 10/3/1903, p. 8.
"Big Colored Fair" in the Central Record, 4/24/1903, p. 1.
"John and Edmund Holland attended the Owensboro Colored Fair Saturday" in The Bee, 10/8/1903, p. 6.
"Allowed to bear arms" in the Citizen, 7/27/1905, p. 7.
"Colored Fair in Lancaster" in the Central Record, 6/30/1905, p. 1.
"Reduced tickets to Scott County Colored Fair. Georgetown, Ky" in The Blue-grass Blade, 8/6/1905, p. 3.
"Colored People's Fair" in The Frankfort Roundabout, 8/18/1906, p. 2.
"Reduced rates" in the Mount Vernon Signal, 9/14/1906, p. 3.
"Proud of his record" in the Springfield Sun, 4/25/1906, p. 1.
"The colored fair will be held..." in the Central Record, 7/19/1907, p. 1.
"The First annual exhibition..." in the Citizen, 9/12/1907, p. 8.
"Colored Fair" in the Hopkinsville Kentuckian, 9/21/1907, p. 1.
"Shattered Glass" in the Hopkinsville Kentuckian, 10/1/1907, p. 4.
"Berea and vicinity" in the Citizen, 3/12/1908, p. 3.
"Knox County Colored Fair Association" in the Mountain Advocate, 6/26/1908, p. 3.
"Colored citizens may have a fair next fall" in The Paducah Evening Sun, 5/26/1908, p. 6.
"Colored Fair," Mount Sterling Advocate, 9/15/1909, p. 6.
"Glasgow colored fair, October 6, three days" in the Hartford Herald, 7/27/1910, p. 1.
"Louisville Colored Fair Ass'n" in the Hopkinsville Kentuckian, 9/24/1910, p. 4.
"Colored Column: On the night of October 27..." in the Winchester News, 10/29/1910, p. 4.
**All articles and additional information are available online at Kentucky Digital Newspaper Program.