For a moment,
think back to 1841.
There had only been 8 US presidents at that time. By the end of 1841 there would be two more....
There were only 26 States, with Missouri facing the western frontier.
Horace Greeley began publishing the New York Tribune.
The first wagon train arrived in the California territory.
....and in 1841 the Saratoga County Fair was born!
2016 marks the 175th Anniversary of the Saratoga County Agricultural Society, which presents the Saratoga County Fair. Formed in Ballston Spa, NY, in 1841, the SCAS pre-dates most of the Agricultural Fairs in New York State (and the USA), not to mention the Saratoga Racetrack in Saratoga Springs, the American Civil War, and even Canada becoming a Country!
The Saratoga County Agricultural Society is not an agency of the County of Saratoga, but an organization guided by a 21 member Board of Directors (all volunteer), a few dozen ad-hocs (all volunteer), and a small group of employees that work varying schedules through the year.
The founding fathers of the SCAS represented each Town in Saratoga County, with the first President of the Society being Howell Gardiner of Greenfield. Gardiner was also a Justice of the Peace for two decades, was elected to the NYS Assembly three times between 1815 and 1831, and he was also a member of the Electoral College, casting his vote for James Monroe to be the 5th US President. Mr. Gardiner’s involvement in the SCAS set the stage for active involvement by politicians, businessmen, educators, and agriculturalists for now over 17 decades.
Over our first five decades the Fair was hosted by Ballston Spa, Mechanicville, and Saratoga Springs. One of the two Saratoga City locations, Glen Mitchell, featured its own rail spur and hotel. That location just off North Broadway in Saratoga Springs is roughly where the Maple Avenue Middle School is now. Finally settling high above the Village of Ballston Spa in the late 1880’s, we currently own and maintain almost 80 acres of exposition and parking facilities in Saratoga County.
Pivotal names associated with the Fair through its history were also movers and shakers in Saratoga County in general; names like Curtis, Merchant, Wiswall, West, McGregor, Collamer, Batchellor, Kilmer, Ellsworth, Vischer, King, Middlebrook, MacElroy, Droms, and Clements. Looking through the records of Fair you see names that are recognizable from your everyday contact with roads, landmarks, buildings and destinations all over Saratoga County.
Many businesses and organizations tout their “family like” structure, but in the case of the Saratoga County Fair, involvement in the Fair is a true Family Tradition. Names that have been associated with the Fair for many generations include Merchant, Middlebrook, Curtis, and Armer, just to name a few. Currently, there has been an Armer family member on our board of Directors since the mid 1940’s.
The Saratoga County Agricultural Society is dedicated to not only showcasing the accomplish- ments of each year’s participants in a wide range of competitions, but also in teaching about the history of Saratoga County, and offering a glimpse forward to its future. One trip to the Fair in July, and you can learn how it was done, how we do it now, and how it will be done in the future; and not just by display, but by the people who did it, do it, and will do it. In a social cli- mate that is more and more focused on what people have, the annual Fair is about what people have.. accomplished.
Yes, there are rides, games, demo derbies and tractor pulls, kewpie dolls and all that great Fair Food...... but remember when you visit the Saratoga County Fair, that you become part of a tra- dition that spans over eight generations of Saratoga County families.
Come, enjoy, and share the tradition of celebrating the past, rewarding the accomplishments of the present, and looking into the future, as we have been doing for 175 years!