The Timeline History of California’s Lake County Fair

1879 — (December) Lake County Agricultural Association is established.

1880 — (October 13-15) First unofficial fair held hear in Grantsville (Lower Lake). The crowds were good and the fair was a success.

1882 — Lake County Fair Association became part of the 12th District (a state agency). Fairs were held in Lakeport and Willits on alternating years.  Other than the 1884 fair, these fairs lost money, but this was offset by state appropriations.

1893 — Last fair of the 12th District to include Lake County. The fair had lost popularity.

1922 — (September 28-October 1) the first of several fairs held on the Upper Lake High School grounds (picture currently on display in the Fair Office). Finances to start these fairs were raised through a sale of fair stocks.

1930 — through 1938. Fair was held as part of a water sports show and rodeo in Lakeport.

1933 — Pari-mutuel funds become available for fairs, agricultural exhibits and livestock breed improvement.

1938 — Legislature organizes 49th District Agricultural Association. Governor appoints first Board of Directors.

1941 — First Premium book printed.

1942 — through 1945. During World War II no fairs were held. The Fairgrounds leased to Selective Service and Veteran’s Administration.

1947 — The Board purchases current fair site for $14,000.00 and hires Phil Lewis to oversee planning, construction, and management of the fair. The fair was not held that year due to lack of facilities.

1948 — First of the annual fairs held at the Martin Street fairgrounds.

1949 — The dirt racetrack was built and several barns were moved.

1950 — Lewis Hall, Barty’s Cafe, and Grandstands constructed.

1954 — The Board purchases seven additional acres for expansion.

1955 — Little Theater constructed.

1956 — Office and entry constructed.

1958 — Farmer’s Museum constructed using gunny sacks soaked in cement and hung on wire framework of timbers from old McKinley Mill in Middletown.

1966 — N.C.R.A. paves racetrack and adds more bleachers.

1968 — Phil Lewis retires and the Board hires Floyd Baldwin as the new manager.

1976 — Floyd Baldwin dies and the Board hires Viva Fritch, who had been the Business Assistant for several years.

1985 — Viva Fritch retires and the Board hires Jack Mather as new manager.

1986 — New shop and maintenance yard constructed. The old shop was leased to the California Army National Guard as a temporary armory.

1988 — Baldwin Livestock Pavilion and Fritch Hall constructed, the old floral hall, beef and sheep barns removed. Land swap added 12 acres to south side of fair grounds.

1989 — Bathroom, toilet and shower units purchased from Rashishani Commune for livestock area.

1995 — Livestock parking area paved and fencing added south of Baldwin Pavilion by N.C.R.A.

1996 — National Guard vacates old shop for new quarters in north Lakeport.  Sewer mains replaced in central portion of fairgrounds. Manager Mather retires in October. Richard Persons hired as Chief Executive Officer.

1997 — Two wells drilled and storage tanks installed to replace irrigation water supply from Clear Lake.

1999 — High voltage primary electrical system placed underground throughout fairgrounds, at a cost of more than $300,000. Lake County Roller Rink opens full time in Lewis Hall. Little Theater Building upgraded for part time satellite horse wagering facility.

2000 — Lake County Model Railroad Club moves into the old shop building.

2001 — N.C.R.A. paves entire area around Baldwin Pavilion and Junior Building, and installs large electronic scoreboard at racetrack. Satellite wagering operations discontinued.

2003 — Farmer’s Museum Building condemned by State engineer. Agreement formed with Lake County Historical Society for a permanent loan of the Fair’s collection to an agricultural museum being formed by the Society. Solar generating station installed on Baldwin Pavilion at a cost of more than $150,000. System is designed to provide enough power for 20 normal homes.

2005 — Fair begins replacing original water mains. Lake County Roller Rink closes.

2006 — The Red Cross leases the fair board building for permanent offices. The fair board moves to the former offices of the Lake County Roller Rink. An additional irrigation well is drilled and storage tank installed, in cooperation with the North Shore Little League. Two additional solar generating stations installed on Lewis Hall and Fritch Hall at a cost of more than $320,000. Fair begins generating enough power for 70 normal homes, and becomes essentially self-sufficient for electricity.

2007 — Konocti Christian Academy rents a portion of the grounds for a school, moving in five modular classroom buildings and doing various site work near the fairgrounds front gate.

2008 — Fair replaces two modular restroom buildings in the livestock area with a single purpose built modular building, and sets the groundwork to replace a nearby shower structure as well.

2009 — Fair completes the shower building project begun in 2008 by installing a purpose built shower modular building next to the restroom building, at a total cost of approximately $110,000 over the two years. The fair also performs upgrades to restrooms throughout the facility with new lighting, paint, and fixtures, and does similar upgrades in kitchens throughout the facility with new lighting, paint, stoves, and refrigerators.