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The North Idaho State Fair started from humble beginnings 100 years ago to grow into the ten-day, community-wide entertainment and educational event that it is today!

Kootenai County’s first fairs were held in 1922 and 1923 in Post Falls and Worley, Idaho to showcase the projects of 4-H members. Then, in 1931, a 4-H fair was held at the county courthouse, with approximately 100 members participating.
As time went by, the 4-H fairs grew in scope and participation. In 1935, the County Commissioners levied 1/20th of a mill to raise approximately $800 for fair purposes. Two years later, the city purchased the old Mill Grounds for $19,000 and a Fair board was organized. A year later, a building was constructed on that site at a cost of about $3,500. In 1939, an estimated 4,000 people turned out to see the exhibits of 150 4-H members. As the years went by, barns and events, including a horse show, were added at that site.

The big changes came in the early 1950s when the county and city made plans to trade the downtown fair site for a parcel at the city-owned airport known as Weeks Field. That swap of 110 acres marked the beginning of the fair as we know it today. During the summer of 1954, three livestock barns were moved to the site and two Quonset huts were added for exhibition space. The grandstand was built in 1958. Pari-mutuel horse racing started in 1965 and continued until 1983. Those decades saw the addition of other buildings, including several that were moved from Farragut Naval Station and the Beauty Bay CCC grounds.

For a number of years, the fair manager’s one-person office was maintained within the County Extension Building. In 1984, the office was moved to the Fairgrounds and a secretary was hired to work regular office hours. In the spring of 1985, the Fair Board recognized a need for some type of year-round facility and took steps to provide 20,000 square feet of indoor, heated and lighted exhibit space.

Improvements continued to be made on a yearly basis, and the use of the grounds expanded to include auctions, banquets, wedding receptions, trade shows, science fairs, high school graduation parties and more. Two big facility improvements came when a donation of $50,000 from the Chamber of Commerce sparked the construction of the food court. The addition of the Jacklin Building in 1989 was equally significant.

Over the years, the county carved off bits of that original 110 acres for other purposes, leaving the Fairgrounds with its current 83 acres. Currently, the Fair board and management are exploring the possible addition of an events center. The Board remains committed to preserving the North Idaho Fair’s rich agrarian history, protecting its current facilities, and exploring new and exciting ways in which its current 83 acres can serve the educational and entertainment needs of a growing community.
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