Colossal cattle, trotting horses, handcrafted heirlooms, flashy games, novelty foods, and dizzying rides—these are the constants of the Kentucky State Fair. They are the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes that the visitors to the Fair encountered in 1902 and they are still a major part of the fair experience today, more than one hundred years later. But the other constant thread documented throughout the history of the Fair is change. Kentucky State Fair history encompasses Kentucky’s growth and change in communication, transportation, technology and popular culture. Fair history reflects the challenges we have faced over the past century: to fight war and disease, to shift from rural toward increasingly more urban, to advance human rights and to grow more prosperous. The Fair has become the training ground, the testing site, and the public showcase for the Commonwealth’s progress. To borrow a promotional phrase used throughout the early decades of Fair history, the Fair is Kentucky Proud.
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