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HISTORY OF THE PORTAGE COUNTY FAIR ASSOCIATION

 

The first Portage County Fair Association was organized in 1869, and the first fair was held the same year. The Portage County Fair was held at Amherst continuously from 1869 to 1917. In 1917, the officers of the association voted not to hold the 50th Fair that year (1918) but to have a big homecoming affair, because many of the boys were in World War I service. Later that year the state legislature passed a law which discontinued state aid to fairs not operating in 1918 and this forced the closing of the Portage County Fair. Subsequently, the Portage County Advancement Association was organized; shares were sold and a cattle barn was erected. For a number of years annual cattle sales were held on the fairgrounds. With the coming of the depression years in the 1930’s, these cattle sales were discontinued. In 1949 the Amherst Lion’s Club and local business people revived the fair. In 1950 the new Portage County Fair Association was formed and took over the management to make the fair an annual event. The Fair, as originally founded, was intended to serve the community by way of fostering and promoting the interests of youth in 4-H and FFA programs. It was intended that the youth of the community and surrounding area should have an opportunity to exhibit agricultural skills and compete for prizes, trophies, and recognition, all under the guidance of qualified 4-H and FFA leaders. The Fair itself, running for three full days is the culmination of hard work on the part of leaders and youth and months of work and study. The Fair today, while having far outgrown its original size and number of participants, adheres to its original objectives and philosophies. The Portage County Fair of Amherst remains, basically, a 4-H and FFA event. The Portage County Fair Association is a non-profit organization, serving the community and surrounding area. The Portage County Fair Association holds annual meetings and is served by an elected Board of Directors and officers. Monthly meetings are held on the first Monday of each month at 7:00 P.M. The public is always welcome to attend these meetings. The Portage County Fair Association particularly emphasizes and recognizes the effort and talents of the many people in the community and area who contribute so much to make the Fair a success year after year. It is too difficult to single out individuals and we would hesitate in so doing for fear of not recognizing deserving people regardless of whom they may be. A “Man or Woman of the Year” award has been given over the years, but this is not a mandatory event. In fact, at least one most deserving individual has refused such recognition. Business people contribute much in the way of advertising support. Dominant organizations would and should include 4-H, FFA, The Tomorrow River Lions, The Amherst Women’s Club, The Amherst Garden Club, The Hobby-Lobby Group, The Amherst Boots and Saddle Club, and the Tomorrow River Conservation Club. Many area people are in one or more of these organizations. Because the Fair Association is a non-profit organization, any income over and above expenses is funneled back into the association for improvements in buildings, grounds, sanitation, and safety. This dedication and purpose has made our facilities what they are today, one of the best in the state. Again, our people and the community can take great pride in our facilities. Continued improvements will be made in the years ahead. The Amherst Fair officially opens at 6 p.m. on the Thursday prior to the third weekend in July and closes on the following Sunday at midnight.

 PORTAGE COUNTY FAIR – AMHERST

FAIR BOARD MEMBERS

Tim Pederson – President

Troy Ambrose – Vice President

Ella Weetz – Secretary

Karen Stuczynski – Treasurer

Eugene “Gene” Allen                          Jim & Sarah Ambrose

Jerry Clinton                                         Bobby  & Judy Dambroski

Keith Dambroski                                  Joe Dambroski

Robert Lea, Jr.                                       Lonnie & Jo Krogwold

Susan Pederson                                   Todd Peterson

John Cowden                                        Jenni & Matt Patoka

Bridget Gagas                                       Terry Faivre

Husky Hansen                                      Richard Teschner

Crystal Trzebiatowski                          Tara Ambrose

Joe & Shelly Murphy                          Robert Zinser

Josh Dambroski