was held in 1922
by Jeff Richards
hundred years ago, the idea of having a Grand County
Fair was first pitched in the pages of Moab’s
local newspaper, the Grand Valley Times, although it
would be another 18 years before a fair was actually
According to the Aug. 19, 1904 issue of the Grand Valley
Times (which later became the Times-Independent), a committee
of seven men announced that a County Fair would be held
the last week of September, and noted that “between three and four hundred dollars had already been
subscribed for the purpose.” Note: the first 36 years of the
Times (1896-1932) are available for free on-line in a searchable database
(http://www.lib.utah.edu/digital/unews/) as part of the University
of Utah’s Utah Digital Newspapers archives.
|This article from Aug.
19, 1904 issue of the Grand Valley Times marks
the first mention of a proposed fair in the Moab
“The plan is to
have a general display of the products of Grand county
and to have horse races, and a purse large enough to
attract some of the best horses in the west,” the
newspaper added. “The committee need and should
have the hearty cooperation of all the people.”
However, in the very next issue of the paper, it was noted that there
was not adequate time to prepare for the fair this year, especially
for the proposed horse races.
“Some members of the county fair committee are complaining that there appears
to be very little interest in the proposed fair, at least on the part of the
members of the committee,” lamented the newspaper on Aug. 26, 1904. “It
is suggested now that the race feature be postponed until November and start
at once to advertise the program, and make the fair a local Fruit Day celebration.”
However, although local fruit growers did continue to showcase their
produce at certain smaller events, no formal county fair was held.
The following year, on Oct. 13, 1905, the Grand Valley Times noted
with more than a hint of ruefulness, “County fairs seem to be
the order of the day throughout this inter-mountain country. Most all
county fairs are held at this time of year because it is the time when
nature is at her best for the display of the vast benefits to mankind.
A fair could be held at Moab if the community would only liven up and
make an effort for some such form of activity, and interest the people
of Grand county. There is certainly nothing lacking in Grand county
to make a great agricultural and horticultural display. There is talent
here to furnish evening entertainments, fancy work displays, etc. If
this could be taken hold of in the right way every one in the county
would be willing to do their part to make a fair for Grand county a
Little else was said about a county fair for several years. But then,
the Utah State Fair began to attract more attention from Moab-area
residents, particularly from 1914-1918. Grand County appears to have
had at least some representation at state-level exhibits and pageants
during those years, even though no county fair was ever held.
In 1919, Grand Junction, Colo. formally invited Moab area residents
to participate in its fair. Wrote Grand Junction Sentinel city editor
Frank H. Reeds to the Times-Independent: “We would be pleased
to have any entries from over your district, as we hope to make the
fair and stock show not a local one, but one representative of the
A year later, in September of 1920, Moab corn farmer Horace W.
Sheley suggested that the residents of Moab and Grand County participate
in the state fair, and urged county commissioners to “take steps
to see that this region is represented at the coming state fair.” Said
Sheley: “The people here are overlooking a splendid opportunity
to boost the resources of this county by failing to exhibit their farm
and mineral products at the state fair.”
Finally, in March, 1921, the beginnings of what would become the
first-ever Grand County Fair were set in motion when F.M. Young,
the principal of the local high school, wrote a letter to the editor
of the Times-Independent urging residents to show their support
for a county fair by beginning to plan for it. “If the fair is to be given, preparations must
be commenced at once,” the article noted.
In September of 1921, the Moab Chamber of Commerce appointed a
committee to organize a county fair in the fall of 1922. Young
noted that a small community fair had taken place a week earlier
with only a few days of preparation, but he declared it to be a “highly successful” event
and “the beginning of something bigger and better.”
The ensuing year-long preparations paid off the following autumn, when
the first-ever Grand County Fair was held Oct. 13-14, 1922. Predicted
the newspaper the week before the fair: “The first annual Grand
county fair will be a winner -- the biggest thing ever ‘pulled
off’ in this section. Every citizen should be a booster for it.
Let everybody get busy right now.”
The following week, the Times-Independent proclaimed the fair “a
thorough success” and noted that it had “laid the foundation
for an annual event which will take precedence as the red letter occasion
for the entire year.”
A wide variety of agricultural exhibits were displayed during the
two-day event, including fruits, vegetables, corn, poultry, hogs,
and dairy stock. Cash prizes were given to all first- and second-place
winners. Admission prices to the exhibit hall (the “Star Opera House,” now
known as Star Hall) were 25 cents for adults, 10 cents for children.
A football game was played between the boys on the high school team
and a team of men from the local townsfolk, with the boys winning 12-6.
A humorous play entitled “Valentine Vinegar’s Vaudeville
Agency” was also presented in the high school auditorium Friday
night by high school students, and was reportedly well received.
Thus began a decades-long tradition of annual fairs in Grand County,
a tradition which may have ended in 2002. The past two years, the Grand
County Council has decided not to allocate money needed by the Grand
County Fair Board to hold a county fair, so no fair was scheduled in
2003 or 2004. However, this year’s Miss Grand County Scholarship
pageant, considered a fair-related event, is scheduled to be held Aug.
14 in the Grand County High School auditorium. Monica Arehart, the
2003-04 Miss Grand County, is expected to crown her successor that