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Fair History

1851 The Dane County Agricultural Society came into existence. In October, the first Dane County Fair was held on a Wednesday at a site near the Yahara River in Madison.
1856-1860 The next Dane County Fairs were held first at a location on Wisconsin Avenue and then at what is now Camp Randall.
1861 The Civil War preempted all fairs for a period of ten years. Camp Randall became a military training site.
1871 In September, the Dane County Fair was again held at Camp Randall and was one of the ways the community celebrated the end of the Civil War. The Fair was a success, however lean years followed, with subsequent Fairs operating in the red. Prizes and premiums ranged from 25 cents to five dollars; admission was 15 cents for youngsters and 50 cents for adults.
1895 The Agricultural Society felt it should look for a new site that could be used specifically for The Dane County Fair, so they purchased 250 acres at the present Alliant Energy Center (formerly the Dane County Expo Center) location. Known as "Lakeside Park Farm," it was thought by some to be worthless swampland.
1900-1938 The financial status of the Fair was precarious, and Fairs were held irregularly. The Society tried to stay alive by selling parcels of the original 250-acre site.
1940 The Dane County Fair Association replaces the Agricultural Society, and for 10 years the Fair was held in Stoughton. During all of this time, the County Board did not abandon the County Fairgrounds.
1946 The Dane County Fair Association was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) Education Foundation for the purpose of producing an annual county fair.
1951 The Dane County Fair returns to the Dane County Expo Center, now known as the Alliant Energy Center.
2001 The Dane County Fair celebrates its 150th birthday.
2005 Lyman Anderson named Honorary Fair Marshall.
2009 Molly Rake is selected the first Dane County Fairest of the Fair.
2014 The aging barns are torn down and replaced with two modern animal housing Pavilions.
2017 Extensive community outreach results in new sponsors for the youth-oriented Fair.

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