AmericanFarm.com

Howard County Fair celebrating 70th anniversary

By CARYL VELISEK
Staff Writer

West Friendship, Md. (Aug. 11, 2015) — The Howard County Fair celebrates 70 years this week with extra entertainment that includes two days of Pro Rodeos, two nights of a Car Demolition Derby, also a Combine Derby and a Bull Blast.
There will also be new displays in the dining hall depicting the history of the fair and its growth, rides, and lots of food and other entertainment including the livestock shows and other fair exhibits. Exhibitors will also receive special 70th Anniversary ribbons this year.
Howard County Fair has maintained its original county fair atmosphere throughout the years and still charges a $5 admission fee, with those under 10 years old admitted free, and also free parking in an extensive parking area.
The fair opens each day at 8 a.m. and closes at 11 p.m.
Brendel’s Manor Park was the site of the first Howard County Fair where the Howard County Farm Bureau picnic had been held for many years.
The picnic was a time when farm families and friends gathered each year to celebrate the harvest and to engage in friendly rivalry and games.
Members of Farm Bureau, Pomona Grange, and individuals who had been involved with what was called the Landowners and Farmers Field Day at the Howard County Hunt Club, came up with the idea of making the picnic into a full-fledged county fair.
On Aug. 21 and 22, 1946 the first county fair was held at the park and fair officials said the event cleared $2,000 in profit. 
At a local freezer locker on Aug. 29, just a week after that first fair, organizers discussed having the event again, according to fair records, and it was decided to organize a fair board and “establish the Howard County annual fair on a permanent basis.
The very first meeting of the Howard County Fair Association, Inc., was held on March 24, 1947, at Ellicott City High School and directors were elected.
From its Certificate of Incorporation, the association’s mission was for “the holding of fairs and exhibitions for the display and competition of agricultural and horticultural products; horses, cattle, livestock, domestic animals, poultry, domestic arts and manufactures, farming and gardening implements and machinery and all things relating to the cultivation of the soil and to the products thereof ….”
That year, the fair moved to the high school was held there and admission was $0.30 per person.
The Maryland State Fair Board allotted $2,000 for premiums and a $1 entry fee was charged on dairy and beef cattle in the Open Class, according to fair records.
A car raffle was also held at 25 cents per chance.
The fair moved to Laurel Raceway for its third and fourth year and the legislature imposed the condition that a livestock show would have to be held in conjunction with the racing.
During the first of the “Raceway Years”, the fair ran for four days and those that attended the event in 1949 were treated to harness racing and midway thrills courtesy of the Great Zacchini: the Human Canonball.
The first Howard County Fair held at the current fairgrounds took place in 1953.