SPOKANE, Wash. - What is a Fair? Wikipedia states that a fair is a gathering of people to display or trade produce or other goods, to parade or display animals and often to enjoy associated carnival or funfair entertainment.
Activities at fairs vary widely. Some are important showcases for businessmen in agricultural, pastoral or horticultural districts because they present opportunities to display and demonstrate the latest machinery on the market.
Spokane's love for fairs began in the late 1800s with its first fair held at the area now known as Corbin Park in 1886. From there the fair was relocated several times and underwent a few name changes.
- 1890 - Relocated north of Sprague Avenue and renamed the Spokane Industrial Exposition.
- 1894 - Relocated to an agricultural implement warehouse on Riverside Avenue and renamed the "Spokane Fruit Fair".
- 1901 - Relocated to where the Playfair Racetrack stood for many years and reorganized under the name Spokane Interstate Fair. In 1930, the Fair closed its gates due to financial problems.
- 1943 - A three-day Spokane County Fair was opened at an area on Appleway at Dishman.
- 1944 - Another Fair was held in 1944 at the Playfair location. In 1945, the search for a new site began.
- 1952 - The Spokane Interstate Fair opened at its current 97-acre location on the corner of Broadway Avenue and Havana Street. Fair President, John T. Little, stated, "Tell me where in the United States that you can find agriculture, livestock, mining, timber, electric power, irrigation, industry, wildlife and scenery in greater abundance than in the Inland Empire. We are convinced that the people want the fair and will support it. The public will not be denied goodentertainment."
- 1999 - Spokane County Interstate Fair became the new name of the Fair thus acknowledging the ownership of the Fair by Spokane County.
Over the years, the Fair's purpose has changed. While it was originally created to showcase products as well as improve agriculture and rural life, the urbanization of the Spokane Area has led the Fair to become more of a social and civic event.
The Fair's Mission Statement reads, "The Spokane County Interstate Fair strives to promote public education related to our agricultural heritage, family-oriented entertainment and activities, youth participation, and commercial opportunities recognizing the vast cultural diversity of our participants and visitors in a safe, comfortable environment." As a result, the Fair is enjoyed by people from all over the Inland Northwest each year.
Today, the Spokane County Interstate Fair draws more than 200,000 people over 10 days generating an economic impact to the area of $6 million.