Meigs County Fair’s Historic and Iconic Grandstand

Meigs County Fair’s Historic and Iconic Grandstand

ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio – The Meigs County Fair rolls around each August. Let’s take a brief look at the iconic Grandstand at the fair as it is one of a kind.   

The first fair was a one day event held on Wednesday, October 22, 1851 in Middleport. After that it was was held at several locations such as, Middleport, Chester, Racine, until 1868 when Jane and Leonard Carleton sold 10 1/2 acres at Rocksprings to the Meigs County Agricultural Society. The acreage purchased was what is now the racetrack. At a later date the Society purchased the Apple orchard on the hilltop of the grounds. This makes Meigs Fairgrounds very unique as a split-level grounds. Many of the Apple trees remain until the late 40’s. 

The other trees, of which there were many was a popular place for families to picnic at the fair. ‘Fair food’ as we know it today was not a thing at the fair in those times. 

In 1890, donations by average citizens paid for the construction of a grandstand for the racetrack. Instead of being placed simply along one side of the track, the grandstand curves around the northeastern turn of the track; it is the only curved grandstand at an Ohio county fairgrounds. The grandstand is capable of holding 1,000 people.

Additionally in 1889, the fairgrounds expanded the racetrack from a 1/3 mile track to a 1/2 mile track; this is the track length today. The next year, the curved grandstand was designed by Lore Davis and built over the summer using horses and various pulley systems to lift the wood into place. Thus making the half-moon grandstand, that still stands a 132 years later. 

The track at the fairgrounds bears the nickname “The Rock” paying homage to the sandstone cliffs jutting into the homestretch of the track, as well as the “Indian watering hole” nearby which gives the community and fairgrounds its name: Rocksprings. 

The track at the Rock is also unique in it shape. If you ask any jockey of the Southern Valley Colt Circuit, they will tell you, The Rock is the toughest track on the circuit, due to the layout of the track resembling a safety pin where one turn is much smaller than the other. The turn opposite the grandstand is said to be the tightest turns on a horse racetrack in the state of Ohio.

In 1982, much of the fairgrounds, including the racetrack and grandstand, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

There was a nice celebration held in 1963 to commemorate the 100th year of the Meigs County Fair. 

We will celebrate 159 years of fair. The fair has continued over the years with lots of changes as the world changes. There was not a fair during the war years, Civil War, World War I and World War II. The Society is planning several events to commentate this next year’s milestone.

(Editor’s Note: The information in this article was taken from several historical accounts of the Meigs County Fair.)