Arizona Exposition and State Fair - 128 Years of Fair Fun!
The Fair's history spans three centuries. It was 128 years ago, in the territorial days before statehood, when Arizonans first began coming together to show their best livestock, share their agricultural accomplishments, and have fun.
In November of 1884, a group of citizens in the territory of Arizona wanted to organize an event with the family in mind. The very first Arizona Territorial Fair was held in Phoenix in late fall, near the Salt River west of Central Avenue. Fairgoers of the day were treated to horse, pony, and mule races along with exhibits including agriculture, home economics, and dairy and beef cattle. Fairs were held here annually until 1891, when the untamed Salt River flooded and destroyed the site's buildings and racetrack.
Reviving the Fair became the mission of a citizens' group which formed the Arizona Territorial Fair Association in 1905. Financed by its members, the group led by hotelier J.C. Adams purchased the present location for $9,200.
The Association immediately developed the property, adding two racetracks, a grandstand, and a wooden fence around the grounds.
To aid the Association with their 80-acre development, the Territory of Arizona created a Fair Commission. With a legislative appropriation of $22,500, the Commission constructed two buildings on the property.
After renting the property from the Fair Association for $10 a year, the Fair Commission purchased the property in 1909 for $30,000. With statehood granted in 1912, the State Fair Commission continued the work of the Territorial Fair Commission in presenting the annual Fair. With the exceptions of 1921 (cotton crop failure), 1934 to 1939 (Depression era), and 1943 to 1945 (World War II), the Fair has been presented yearly.
The 2012 Arizona State Fair preserves the best of the Fair's traditions, while moving forward with 21st century innovations in technologies for education and entertainment. This year's Fair marks the 67th consecutive time Arizonans have celebrated with an annual State Fair.