Held each year in July, the Greene County Youth Fair is one of very few fairs around the country that offers free admission and entertainment for all ages. The fair celebrates the accomplishments of area youth who will keep our agricultural legacy alive for years to come.
The Greene County Youth Fair has a long distinguished history of dedication to the youth of Greene County.
Alfred Partridge, leader of the Ashland Blue Ribbon 4-H Club, organized a 4-H Club Fair at the Sutton Hollow School in Ashland in 1949 to give his club members an opportunity to display their projects before family, friends and the community. From this small beginning, the youth fair has developed into the showcase it is today.
Alfred’s club held its second fair in 1950 at the Sutton Hollow School. The next year, the fair was in Jewett and other 4-H Club members in the area joined in.
From 1952-1956, the 4-H Club Fair, as it was then known, was held at the VFW Hall on Route 23 near Windham.
In 1954 the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets recognized the fair as an agricultural fair and donated $5,000 annually to be given in premium money to the exhibitors. Another $500 was appropriated by the Greene County Board of Supervisors. By this time, the fair was officially called the Greene County Youth Fair and open to all youth who lived or attended school in Greene County.
By 1957 the fair had expanded to two dairy tents, a poultry and rabbit tent, and a sheep and goat tent. A new home was found at the Durham Central School, currently the Durham Elementary School, on Route 145. In addition to the tent space outside, there was ample space in the school for food and clothing exhibits, vegetables, flowers, entomology, arts and crafts.
During the late 1960s, a trade tent was added by the local merchants, as was a horse show, and the fair became a three-day event.
The Greene County Youth Fair stayed at the Durham School for 38 years, with the exception of 1973 when, due to alterations at the school, the fair was held at the Durham Town Building on Route 81.
In the fall of 1995 a committee was formed to find a new home for the fair, which by that time was in its 41st year. The Town of Cairo was more than willing to offer the use of Angelo Canna Town Park as a location centrally located in the county, and a new chapter in the fair’s history began.
With more area to work with, the fair continued to add more activities — kiddie rides, a kiddie tractor pull, bee-keeping exhibit, maple syrup equipment displays and ongoing entertainment.
The fair was extended to a four-day event in 2001 and that same year Senator John Bonacic helped obtain a grant for a new public address system at the fair.
In 2002 the youth fair had a new attraction. An agricultural tent, bustling with activities to educate and entertain visitors of all ages. Part of the tent was filled with youth displays and agriculture, as well as forestry and conservation displays for adults. An activities area for children included a course for youngsters to ride pedal tractors, plus ring toss and sand jar art with livestock grains.
It is impossible to know how many young people have been involved in exhibiting and participating in the Greene County Youth Fair over the years. There are statistics indicating more than 2,000 exhibits had been made numerous years. The pride of achievement, the wonderful fun times and the friendships made are all great memories for those who participated.
So, Alfred Partridge’s dream of a youth fair dedicated to the talents and interests of all of the youth of Greene County has come true. He worked many years for this project, but he would be the first to acknowledge all of the willing people who worked side-by-side with him. The list is endless.
Today, the fair attracts more than 20,000 people and is one of the only fairs in New York State to offer free admission and entertainment. The Greene County Youth Fair remains a celebration of the talents of local youth, enabling them to strive for higher goals and receive support from family, friends and their community.
In 2017 the Greene County Youth Fair will celebrate 63 years. Join us and come to the fair!