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Fair Banner Clallam County Parks Clallam County Fair

  1608 West 16th Street in Port Angeles next to Lincoln Park and the Fairchild International Airport   •   Phone: 360-417-2551   •     •   Clallam.net

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Parks Photo

Fair History

The first county-wide celebration began as an attempt by several civic leaders to boost the morale of Clallam County citizens, following the Panic of 1893.  The Panic of 1893 was a nationwide depression that caused bank closures and railroad bankruptcies.  In an effort to showcase the natural harbor at Port Angeles, the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet, based in San Fransisco, was invited as the city´s guest.  It came as quite a shock when the U.S. Pacific Fleet´s commander, Rear Admiral Lester A. Beardslee, accepted the invitation.  The successful invitation encouraged the leaders to invite the governor of Washington, civic leaders from Victoria, British Columbia, British Royal Navy ships, and other dignitaries.  September 1895 was a busy month for county residents, as they prepared the community for the celebration.

Photo Pacific Fleet in Port Angeles Harbor

Pacific Fleet in Port Angeles Harbor

On October 2, 1895, six of Admiral Beardslee´s Pacific Fleet steamed into the harbor at Port Angeles. The ships saluted the townfolk with cannon fire and music. The naval crews slept on shore in tents erected throughout the city. During the day, they would provide exhibitions on military drills and hold band concerts in the evenings. Naval ball teams played against local teams.

The county-wide celebration included an agricultural fair sponsored by the Clallam County Horticulture Society, held in the three-year-old Opera House, on First Street in downtown Port Angeles. The magnificently decorated auditorium, stage, and galleries were crowded with exhibits. Outside space was filled with pens and stalls full of livestock.

The celebration continued for three days. On the evening of October 4th, a Harvest Home Ball was held. This gala event was the highlight of the festivities and was attended by almost everyone in town. The Pacific Fleet continued to visit the area every summer until the 1930s and the fair continued to be held in the Opera House until 1920.

Opera House on 1st Street

Opera House Interior

Agricultural Exhibit in Opera House


In 1903, efforts were made to obtain land from the federal government for city park land, a city cemetery, and county fair grounds. In February of 1904, a bill passed through Congress that transferred land to the City of Port Angeles and the property became known as Lincoln Park.

Through the years, the local Grange districts became increasingly involved with the County Fair. Members of the first Fair Board were representatives from the three Grange districts and a member-at-large position. An agreement, in May of 1920, between the City of Port Angeles and the Board of Clallam County Commissioners provided a site for the Fairgrounds adjacent to Lincoln Park. The Fair has been held in its present location since that time.

Cattle Barn 1930

Cattle Barn - 1930

The Granges ran the Fair from 1931 until 1961, when the County Commissioners designated the Clallam County Fair Association to operate and maintain the annual county

Fairgrounds 1950s Photos taken in the 1950s or 1960s Fairgrounds 1950s

Horse racing at the Fairgrounds was a big draw throughout the years. The Jack Henson Memorial Derby is the feature race shown in both photos below.


Horse Race 1973
Horses busting out of the starting gate during the 1972 Fair


Horse Race 1980
Shoot The Bull, 3rd horse from left, won this 1980 race

 

In May of 1991, Clallam County assumed operations of the Fair. It is now operated by the Parks, Fair, and Facilities Department.

Historical photos courtesy of the Bert Kellogg Collection from the North Olympic Library System and the Peninsula Daily News.