92 Years and Counting...The Cleveland County Fair

It was in 1923 that the Shelby Kiwanis Club first began to dream of a county-wide fair.

They initiated a remarkable fundraising effort that raised $15,000 (about $200,000 in today's money) to establish the Cleveland County Fair, and the first ever fair was held that year, with approximately 70,000 people flocking to see.

The fair immediately established itself as the largest agricultural county fair in North Carolina, and continues to provide the excitement of rides and races, but also has continued the unwavering commitment to bringing the best agricultural practices to Cleveland County.

As Cleveland County Fair legend Dr. JS "Doc" Dorton stated at the very start...

"The purpose of the fair is to provide an opportunity for citizens to display the fruits of their labors, to meet and compare notes on crops, livestock, farm machinery, home development and improvement"

Doc Dorton was among the first officers of the fair, went on to become fair manager for 38 years (almost half of all the fairs) and the Cleveland County fair remains true to its heritage today.

The formula for a successful fair included the bringing together of farm and city life to showcase agriculture and industry with exhibits and education. Throughout the years, the ingredients have changed, but the formula for a successful fair remains the same.

History Timeline...

 

1923

Shelby Kiwanis Club formed the Cleveland County Fair committee with O. Max Gardner - President.

January 8th

1924

Dr. J.S. Dorton named Cleveland County Fair Manager.

October

1924

First Cleveland County Fair featuring Miller Shows on the Midway.

December

1951

Cleveland County Fair exhibit hall burns.

April 7th

1954

"Fat Lady" Betty Singleton Holdridge dies at the fair and is buried in Sunset cemetery.

May

1954

First rodeo at the Cleveland County Fair.

June 18th

1961

J. Sib Dorton, Jr. became second Cleveland County Fair manager.

July

1962

Elbridge J. Withers became third Cleveland County Fair manager.

August

1963

Log cabin brought to fairgrounds.

September

1971

Cleveland County Fair becomes ten day fair.

 

1962

Waterwheel moved from Peeler's Mill in Casar to the Cleveland County Fair.

October

1973

Sam Goforth becomes the fourth Cleveland County Fair manager.

October

1974

Cleveland County Fair celebrates 50th Anniversary.

October

1976

Reithoffer Shows features midway entertainment.

October

1977

Joe Goforth becomes the fifth Cleveland County Fair manager.

October

1979

Six new ticket booths built at the main entrance.

 

1987

New exhibit hall and performing arts stage built along with a new board room.

 

1990

Horse show arena built.

October

1994

Largest attendance numbers recorded at 184,353.

 

1994

Three buildings were named for previous fair managers.

 

 

* Dorton Hall was named for Dr. J.S. Dorton and his son J. Sib Dorton

 

 

* Weathers Arena was named for Elbridge J. Weathers

 

 

* Goforth Building was named for Sam P. Goforth and Joe A. Goforth

 

1994

Cemetery land acquired which allowed carnival expansion.

 

1995

Midway was paved.

September 28th

1996

Wedding for Phillip Smith and Michelle Greene was held at the performing arts stage.

 

1998

New grandstand was built and 7.7 acres of land was purchased on Kemper Road.

 

1999

Roof added to grandstand.

January

2002

Cleveland County Fair wins Best Fair Award by the Association of Agricultural Fairs.

 

2004

50 x 60 amphitheater was constructed adjacent to the Weather's Arena.

December

2004

Joe Goforth resigns after serving as fair manager for 28 years.

January

2005

Bill Edmondson was named the sixth Cleveland County Fair manager.

February

2007

Cleveland County Fair purchases the former Poston Trailer Park for additional parking.

February

2008

Fuchia Allen was named the seventh Cleveland County Fair manager.

December 12th

2008

Former fair manager Joe Goforth passed away at the age of 84.

April 1st

2010

Fuchia Allen resigns as manger of the Cleveland County Fair.

August 2nd

2010

Calvin Hastings is named the eighth Cleveland County Fair manager.

Dec 1 - 3

2010

First ever Christmas at the Fair

March

2011

Christmas Flea & Farmers Market Opened - Tuesdays

April 1st - 3rd

2011

First ever Spring Into the Fair Home and Garden Show event is held at the fairgrounds

August 11th

2011

American Legion World Series - Ronnie Dunn Concert

March 3rd & 4th

2012

First ever Cleveland County Bridal Fair.

April 21st

2012

Racing returns to the fairgrounds. (Legend Cars)

September

2012

The Cleveland County Fair becomes an 11 day fair.

ATTRACTIONS AT THE 2016 CLEVELAND COUNTY FAIR


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Vendor Opportunities

We have limited space available for local businesses who would like to be a vendor at the Cleveland County Fair.

Outside and Inside booths are available, but space is limited, so hurry!

  • Expected attendance over 100,000
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Food Vendors Space Available

Calling Food Vendors...

We have openings for food vendors at the Cleveland County Fair 2016.

Do you offer something different? Sonething unusual that will tantalize the taste buds of fair-goers? We want to hear from you!

  • Non-Standard Carnival Food
  • Tasty and Different
  • Contact Us Today!
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