Looking Back at the Jacksonville Fair's History

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Step Right Up to the Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair!

Fairs have been a cherished American pastime for generations. Pulsing neon lights, garish signs, the hypnotizing orbit of a Ferris wheel, the magical mouthfeel of cotton candy, the slew of chaotic noises, and the enticing smell of fried dough are familiar memories to many. It’s an assault on the senses that can elicit a deep feeling of nostalgia. 

The Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair has been an integral part of North Florida's history since 1955. For over 60 years, Jacksonville residents, and folks from surrounding areas, have ventured to the Fair to be enthralled, entertained, and enlightened. We sifted through the Times-Union Editorial Archives and found folders upon folders of Jacksonville Fair material spanning decades.

Here's a look at the Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair over the years. These are photos and articles that capture the essence of the time and the culture of the American fair.

 

  • Jacksonville Fair, Jacksonville Public Library, Times-Union Archives

    1982 - "It's a different schedule for Fair people. For Gene Stanek it's time to get up from a snooze when the sun sets behind the ferris wheel. Even with people hammering in the background, Gene snoozes on into the night." - From the Florida Times-Union Editorial Archive Collection

  • Jacksonville Fair, Jacksonville Public Library, Times-Union Archives

    1982 - "Pizza Joe holds one of his famous pizzas that the crowds go wild for at the Greater Jacksonville Fair. Joe has been a familiar sight at the Fair for many years." - From the Florida Times-Union Editorial Archive Collection

  • Jacksonville Fair, Jacksonville Public Library, Times-Union Archives

    1982 - "Art Swain, operator of the Great American Hot Dog Stand, isn't smiling because business is good at his food stand at the Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair, because he says business isn't very good at all. He's smiling because that's his style: 'Business with a smile' so-to-speak." - From the Florida Times-Union Editorial Archive Collection

  • Jacksonville Fair, Jacksonville Public Library, Times-Union Archives

    1982 - "Mrs. Thelma Conners holds one of her 24 award-winning entries in the canning contest." - From the Florida Times-Union Editorial Archive Collection

  • Jacksonville Fair, Jacksonville Public Library, Times-Union Archives

    1981 - "All of the 'Madness' has gone and the only thing left is tiredness for Vicki Hare as she waits for her friends to ride one more ride. Vicki and her friends got their money's worth out of the night (morning) as this was shot at 5 a.m." - From the Florida Times-Union Editorial Archive Collection

  • Jacksonville Fair, Jacksonville Public Library, Times-Union Archives

    1972 - "Greater Jacksonville Fair is Opened at Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony: Agriculture Secretary Doyle Connor Assists 1971 Fair Queen Robin McCooley." - From the Florida Times-Union Editorial Archive Collection

  • Jacksonville Fair, Jacksonville Public Library, Times-Union Archives

    1980 - "Emmett K. Rachels examines one of the finer birds entered in the poultry division at the Fair. Rachels has been a fair judge in poultry for the past 22 years and has traveled all over the country judging. There are 600 entries in the poultry division. As to the quality of the foul, he says the birds are good for fair exhibits but not for pure bred exhibitions." - From the Florida Times-Union Editorial Archive Collection

  • Jacksonville Fair, Jacksonville Public Library, Times-Union Archives

    1980 - "'This is Mr. Murphy's pride and joy. He bought this for his kids'" said 'Red' Hammond as he washes down the horses on the Merry-Go-Round." - From the Florida Times-Union Editorial Archive Collection

  • Jacksonville Fair, Jacksonville Public Library, Times-Union Archives

    1980 - "Norris 'Red' Hammond scrubs down the Merry-Go-Round in preparation for opening day of the fair. 'People just don't know how much work goes into cleaning up these rides." - From the Florida Times-Union Editorial Archive Collection

  • Jacksonville Fair, Jacksonville Public Library, Times-Union Archives

    1981 - "Boat load of excited riders... Aliscia Batten said the Sea Dragon was fun, scary and excellent... Although you might not be able to tell by the ecpressions on the faces during the ride. Ron Chilner, an employee on the fair midway, waits as Donnie Stoner, Todd Huo, and Chuck Caltor finish their ride. (How people get enjoyment out of letting someone make them sick at their stomach I will never know or understand)" - From the Florida Times-Union Editorial Archive Collection

  • Jacksonville Fair, Jacksonville Public Library, Times-Union Archives

    1965 Woman on stage holding snake at the Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair from the Florida Times-Union Editorial Archive Collection

  • Jacksonville Fair, Jacksonville Public Library, Times-Union Archives

    1981 - "How hard ARE the games of skill at the fair this year? Storm Davis, outstanding young local pitcher (recently promoted to triple-A) will be throwing balls at some of them to see." - From the Florida Times-Union Editorial Archive Collection

  • Jacksonville Fair, Jacksonville Public Library, Times-Union Archives

    1968 - "New thrill ride, Zipper, makes debut here." - From the Florida Times-Union Editorial Archive Collection

  • Jacksonville Fair, Jacksonville Public Library, Times-Union Archives

    1981 - "Jimmy Helms, the operator of the Zipper, watches over the ride on the night of the Fair." - From the Florida Times-Union Editorial Archive Collection.

  • Jacksonville Fair, Jacksonville Public Library, Times-Union Archives

    1968 - "Making A Monkey Out of His Wife: A man transformed a lady into a 398-pound gorilla yesterday. Then George Dugan opened the cage, the gorilla charged out, and the crowd ran.

  • Jacksonville Fair, Jacksonville Public Library, Times-Union Archives

    1968 - "The Beginning and End of George Dugan's 'House Of Fright' Act - From the Florida Times-Union Editorial Archive Collection

  • Jacksonville Fair, Jacksonville Public Library, Times-Union Archives

    1968 - "When Super Mischief, Borg, and Sharon Curtis, who is Miss Greater Jacksonville Fair of 1968, lined up for the formal presentation, Super Mischief made a movement that startled Miss Curtis. Eyes wide, she left the are, still carrying the trophy that she was to present to Borg. After he walked Super Mischief around in a circle and had him calmed down, the presentation was made." - From the Florida Times-Union Editorial Archive Collection

  • Jacksonville Fair, Jacksonville Public Library, Times-Union Archives

    1968 - "The Bull Was to Get the Prize... But Instead Startled the Queen, Who Fled with Trophy" - From the Florida Times-Union Editorial Archive Collection

  • Jacksonville Fair, Jacksonville Public Library, Times-Union Archives

    1969 - "New Midway Ride: The 55-foot Swiss Toboggan on the midway at the Greater Jacksonville Fair is one of the new attractions being brought here this year by Blue Grass Shows, operators of the fair midway. The midway will be open at 5 p.m. today and close at midnight." - From the Florida Times-Union Editorial Archive Collection.

  • Jacksonville Fair, Jacksonville Public Library, Times-Union Archives

    1969 - Fair Queen: Miss Nancy Atkins, 18, is the new Miss Greater Jacksonville Fair. A graduate of Terry Parker High School, Miss Atkins is attending Chipola Junior College in Marianna. She was crowned late Friday night after winning the title over 13 other finalists." - From the Florida Times-Union Editorial Archive Collection

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