Historic Martinsville

 

The grounds of the Martinsville Agricultural Fair have a long, rich history.  The Clark County Fair Association was formed in 1897 and the first fair was held in the early fall of that same year.  Families came to spend the day, bringing picnic hampers and blankets to spread out while sharing lots of stories and laughs with their neighbors.  Today families eat at the variety of food vendors instead of bringing a picnic basket but the fellowship with neighbors hasn’t changed.

 

The Fair flourished until 1912 when it was largely destroyed by a tornado.  After four years of recovery, the grounds were once again opened in 1917 and continued until the last Fair run by the Clark County Fair Association was held in 1930. 

 

The previous fair site was purchased in 1944 by a group of interested people and shares were sold in the Martinsville Community Club.  By 1945 the Club decided to deed the fairgrounds, about 29 acres, to the newly formed Martinsville Agricultural Fair Association.  Under this new management the Fair opened once again on July 15, 1946.  The Association continues to be the governing body of the Fair today and has been expanded to include 48 acres.

 

Horse racing has always been a major part of the Fair. The half-mile track was redesigned and resurfaced in 1965 and remains one of the premier facilities in the state for harness racing.  The track is home to the first mile in two minutes (or faster) in Illinois county fair history for both trotters and pacers.   Fifteen individuals have been involved with the Martinsville racing program and then subsequently inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Trotter in Goshen, IN.   The Great Midwest Trot and Pace remain the fair’s signature events, having been held annually since 1953.   Because the Fair Association maintains a winterized racing track, thoroughbred and harness horses are boarded and trained on the grounds year around.  The Martinsville track was where Dale Baird, Winningest Thoroughbred Trainer in History, got his start.     

 

2018 was the 72th consecutive year, with a total of 100 years of fairs at the Martinsville Fair Grounds.  Throughout the years, the Board of Directors has upheld the founders’ pledge in the Articles of Incorporation: “To encourage, promote and conduct civic, patriotic, athletic, education, agricultural and horticultural enterprises and events, and in furtherance to same but not in limitation thereof to furnish facilities for and to conduct an Agricultural Fair with exhibits of farm products, livestock, poultry and products of horticulture, floriculture, culinary and domestic arts; 4H Club work, school and education work, farm machinery; and in general to do all things usually done or furnished in and about the conduction of a Country Fair.”

 

The Board has always been committed to maintaining and improving the grounds.  There are five horse barns, a dairy barn, beef barn, hog barn and sheep barn to use in racing and livestock shows.  In addition there is a horse arena that is used throughout the year by various horse clubs and an Arts Hall, used to promote agricultural and cultural education.  Over the last few years two new pavilions and a handicap accessible area to the grandstands have been added; electrical upgrades to the midway area have been completed; the roof of the Arts Hall has been replaced and other buildings have been maintained and painted.  In addition to the 4-H Fair, other events utilizing the grounds have included the Martinsville Heritage Days Festival/Draft Horse Show; Farm Safety Program; Livestock Judging Program; the Firemen’s Auxiliary’s Haunted Barn; Firemen Training Programs, the circus, the Antique Power Club Show, the Clark County Health Department’s used tire disposal collection point, reunions, auctions and more.

 

The Martinsville Agricultural Fair is known as a fair that promotes “Family Night, Every Night” by offering top entertainment and a State Fair quality carnival for families to enjoy at affordable prices. The Fair is one of Martinsville’s greatest assets and the Board of Directors will continue to build on the rich heritage while partnering with organizations throughout the area to fully utilize what the grounds can offer.   

 

Original signers of the first Article of Incorporation were:

R. H. Cooper, H. T. Bennett (Father to our Secretary and Uncle to a current Board Member), H. L. Downey, W. T. Sinclair, Grover Wood, Pierce Reeds (Father of a current Board Member), Huber Bennett, Robert Moore, Thomas Coats and Euritte Ralston.

History
 
Officers

President - Alan Buckner

Co-Vice President - Andy Cruse

Co-Vice President - Phil Reeds

Co-Treasurer - Barret Von Behren

Co-Treasurer - Jeff Lewis

Secretarty - Sherry Repp 

Board of Directors

Scott Bennett, Martinsville

Brian Bennett, Martinsville

Dustin Bishop, Marshall

John Bishop, Martinsville

Alan Buckner, Martinsville

Norma Calvert, Martinsville

Doug Clement, Martinsville

Fred Clement, Martinsville

Andy Cruse, Marshall

Trent Dahnke, Martinsville

Lynn Denham, Martinsville

George Greenwell, Martinsville

John Hammond, Martinsville

Don Hills, Martinsville

Jerry Hills, Martinsville

Blake Hills, Martinsville


 

Chris Kannmacher, Martinsville

Gale Kannmacher, Martinsville

Mark Kannmacher, Martinsville

Jeff Lewis, Marshall

Trent Maxwell, Martinsville

Chris Miller, Casey

Karen Paulsen, Marshall

Justin Parcel, Martinsville

Travis Phillips, Martinsville

Scott Price, Martinsville

Phillip Reeds, Martinsville

Sherry Repp, Palestine

Randy Stephens, Martinsville

Deone Wilson, Martinsville

Tim Wilson, Jr., Martinsville

Barret Von Behren, Robinson

Bob Zellers, Casey

Honorary

Eddie Buckner, Martinsville

 
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