3 County Fair
On December 24, 1817 a meeting was held in Northampton for the purpose of establishing an agricultural society.
An announcement to that effect was placed in the Daily Hampshire Gazette and on January 28, 1818 the Hampshire, Franklin & Hampden Agricultural Society was formed. A constitution was reported, approved and adopted. The society was incorporated by a special act of state legislature and approved by then Governor John Brooks on February 16, 1818.
The first meeting of the society was held and Judge Joseph Lyman was elected as President. Vice Presidents elected were Noah Webster, Thomas Dwight, Epaphras Hoyt, Samuel Lathrop and Nathaniel Smith. Josiah Whitney as Treasurer, and Josiah Dwight as Recording and Corresponding Secretary. Noah Webster gave the address at the first annual meeting, and the Gazette reported that his address was "...replete with sound sense, valuable agricultural information and most interesting religious and moral precepts...".
The purpose of the Society was then as it is now: "To promote agriculture, agricultural education, and agricultural science [even back then] in the Commonwealth." Exhibitions, displays, competitions and demonstrations were the "tools of choice" as the Society went about fulfilling its purpose. Premiums were awarded for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places in a variety of agricultural and domestic categories.
182 years later, and without interruption, through the great depression, two world wars (and many smaller though significant battles) the purpose on which the Society was built still provides an umbrella over which the Fair events are presented to the public. Agricultural promotion, education and science through exhibitions, displays, competitions and demonstrations.
Because the Society is in the business of creating a series of experiences for its Fairgoers, in time, various entertainment events became part of the annual fair. Carnivals, games, thoroughbred horse racing, horse demonstrations, crafts, a variety of foods and special programs, each, for Mothers, Fathers, and kids were developed. Farmers come to share their farming techniques. Families come to view the very best in agricultural products and livestock, and to experience programs and events that they will not experience anywhere except at the fair.