The Washington County Fair could be aptly described as a labor of love. It began as a way to emphasize the importance of agriculture in our daily lives and to recreate the longtime tradition of the county fair, which was an important part of our heritage. After over fifty years, it has come a long way from the first modest event held in 1967, on the grounds of Perryville Grange in Wakefield.
After two years in Wakefield, it became evident that more space was needed. A search for land culminated with the purchase of a large tract of land in Richmond. It seemed ideal for our needs and featured a large stand of pine trees on a sloping hill which we could envision as a natural amphitheater. The purchase was not only for a home for the fair, but as a recreational area for other organizations to enjoy. There was land to cleared, boulders to be removed, booths to build and a stage to be constructed. The list was awesome, but the Grangers were ready for the task. Grangers from other parts of the state and people who were interested in the project all came to lend a hand. It should be noted that the work on these grounds has been accomplished primarily by Grangers and their friends who have volunteered their time and talents to help the Fair grow and prosper.
As the years went by, more and more improvements have been added; the latest being the addition of a third ring for pulling events, a new sheep/goat barn, and a tremendous museum holding a vast collection of Agricultural equipment and other items from the past. A steering committee composed of Grange members from all walks of life guided the Fair. None had any experience running a Fair, but they have learned “on the job” so to speak.
The Committee meets at least once a month and as soon as one Fair is in the books, they begin work on the next. The goal has always been to host an authentic County Fair, where families can come to enjoy the flavor of an earlier time in our history. The Washington County Fair is directly attributable to the countless numbers of men, woman and young people who have worked so tirelessly on this labor of love.
The Fair is owned and operated by the Washington County Pomona Grange. The Grange, Order of Patrons of Husbandry, is a National Organization with headquarters in Washington, DC. It is a non-profit fraternal organization with members in 38 states. Organized December 4, 1867, it is the oldest Farm Family Fraternity in the country, with an enviable record of community service and good citizenship as it’s cornerstones. The Washington County Pomona Grange encompasses all the subordinate and local Granges in the county.
Those individual Granges that make up the Pomona Grange do a tremendous amount of community service within their respective communities. Some of their work includes; knitting hats for newborns at hospitals, donating new dictionaries to elementary schools, giving food to the local food banks, donations to local charities and financial scholarships to high school students.
Also the local Granges support the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H, FFA, and other agricultural organizations both financially, and by hosting their meetings in their Grange halls and at the Fairgrounds.