BATH, N.Y. (WETM) – The Steuben County Fair, the oldest operating fair in New York state and the entire nation, is now open once again this week.
The fair dates back to 1819, when Steuben County was one of six counties to take advantage of a New York state stipend to sponsor county fairs. One of the earliest attractions in the fair is the race track, which was used for harness and bicycle racing until the present time. Today, the track is mainly used as an extra space for parking.
Agriculture also plays a huge role in the fair’s historical roots. Fairs were off and on until 1853, when the current Steuben County Agricultural Society came to be, quickly establishing the fairgrounds at their current location.
“The state was actually offering money to encourage creation of county fairs largely because it could be used to promote and improve agriculture,” said Kirk House, Director of the Steuben County Historical Society. “And because of that, you could learn things that would help you improve your farming.”
Exhibits related to agriculture can still be viewed at the fair today. The old fair house contains exhibits of various fruits, vegetables, bread, and flowers all presented by New York state residents. Today, the fair has a lot more to offer, including rides and games. A couple of the rides include “Scrambler” and “Musik Express,” where guests spin around in their seats several times.
“Things have changed a little bit over the years, but we still stick to our roots,” said Nick Pelham, Steuben County Fair Manager. “We still have harness racing every year and it’s just a great old county fair.”
Guests can also grab a bite at the vendors scattered across the fair. Foods offered at the fair include sizzling sausage, fries, and pizza.
The fair opens at 10 AM every day from Tuesday, August 16th to Sunday, August 21st.