Ramsey County History – Spring 2014: “The Birth of the Ramsey County Fair”

James Lindner

The Birth of the Ramsey County Fair
Author: James Lindner

The person credited with the concept of the original county fair is Elkanah Watson, of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, who, in 1810, started the Berkshire County Fair. Watson wanted to promote ways to improve farm productivity through education, “personal ambition,” and competition. In White Bear Lake, the Farmer’s Institute held its first all-day meeting on March 12, 1913, attended by over 250 farmers and visitors interested in agrarian education. This group reestablished the Ramsey County Agricultural Society, and Frank H. Gibbs, son of early farmers Jane and Heman Gibbs of Rose Township, became the society’s first president. White Bear Lake was selected as the location for the first county fair, which officially opened on Thursday, August 28, 1913. There were many friendly competitions, and it was truly a family event. No gambling or alcohol was allowed. White Bear did such a good job that the Ramsey County fair remained in that location for four decades. In 1953, the White Bear School District bought the land that the fair resided on, and the fair moved to Maplewood.
PDF of Lindner article