Come and join the fun with your family at our annual county fair in Southern Maryland. This yearly event starts every last weekend of September. We have been organizing the fair for 136 years, facilitating fun and educational events and activities that you and your loved ones will love.
Under the direction and promotion of Mr. John Drury, who started what is now known as the Extension Service in Calvert County, the fair grew more popular. Then, during the First World War, the area came upon leaner times, and farming became crucial to the war efforts. So little was done in those years to promote fairs.
Revival of the County Fair
For some years, county fairs were not largely promoted until a new agricultural agent arrived in Calvert. Mr. John Morsell, a county agent and an enthusiastic young man from the Agricultural Department of the University of Maryland, decided to hold a fair again. This came after he saw a need to bring farmers and their families together for educational purposes and fun.
During the twenties and early thirties, he encouraged farmers to participate, and the fair eventually evolved into the major event that we enjoy today. They organized the Calvert County Farm Bureau during this time, and the members also saw the benefits of holding a fair annually.
It was their foresight in producing the fair and their decision to make the farm exhibits bigger and better. They held the event in the center of the county in the latter part of the summer to allow and encourage more farmers to participate since they are mostly done harvesting their crops during these times.
The first mid-county fair was held at the Prince Frederick Town Hall, with the livestock show on the grounds of Dr. Everett Briscoe’s farm just south of the hall. In subsequent years, it was held in front of the Evans Hotel, the Town Hall on Main Street, the Roberts’ property, and later on the school grounds, which is now the site of Calvert Middle School.
The Calvert County Fair Finds a Permanent Home
The Calvert County Fair Board, Inc. was officially established in 1940 as an all-volunteer, non-profit 501(c)(3) entity. Since then, its purpose has been to provide agricultural education and promote the local farming community.
Also, in 1940, several Farm Bureau members—including Mr. Morsell, Mr. Ellis Bowen, and Mr. Claude Turner—determined that the fair needed a permanent home. They contacted a bank for a loan and personally obligated themselves to purchase a permanent site for the fair. Mr. Ellis Bowen, who was then President of the Farm Bureau, resigned from this position to become the first Fair Board President.
They purchased a 9-acre site from Mr. Duke Brightwell, located on what later became known as Armory Road. Two more parcels were added later as the fair grew, bringing the total acreage to 12. Cattle and animal buildings were built as well as a larger hall. The cattle buildings later burned mysteriously the night before a fair, but the large exhibition hall survived. These grounds were used until the present location was established in Barstow.
The Calvert County Fair Board, Inc. continues striving each year to build upon the work begun by those early fair organizers. It is operated by an 18-member Board of Directors, 18 associate directors, and several honorary members who aim to hold an event that educates and entertains, reminds the current generation of its agricultural roots, and promotes the importance of the agricultural community in the lives of all.