History of Stokes County Fair
by Kathleen M. Mendenhall
Secretary Stokes County Agricultural Fair
The first Stokes County Agricultural Fair was held at the Tabernacle
in King during 1906, according to the records of local historian, Robert
The Tabernacle was a round building, located south of Merritt
Plumbing and across from the present King City Hall.
In 1907, the fair was held along Mountainview Road where O.O.
Grabs Jr.’s home is presently located. The fair continued to exist at this
location until 1923.
Robert Carroll has fond memories of this fair, and I recall my aunt,
Manie Sizemore, relating that she won ribbons and also worked with the
The American Legion Auxiliary records show that there was a
small-scale fair in 1948 and 1949. The exhibits were in a tent on the
Legion parking lot.
Ruth Kiser and C.R. Moser Jr. recalled that there was a bad cloud
one night, and a tent blew down after the crowd had left. Annie Kate
Trawick and I, both Auxiliary charter members, recall the Auxiliary
concession under a small tent where we cooked on an oil stove. We
remember taggles were everywhere including hanging from our eye
In 1950, the American Legion had obtained a charter for the Stokes
County Agricultural Fair. Gilbert J. Moser helped organize this year and
served as president the first two years.
When he retired from Gentry and Moser in 1960, he again served as
president for 12 consecutive years. Also Gilbert J. Moser was president in
1979 and 1980. for six years, he was listed as “Honorary Fair Manager”
until his death in December
William H. Gentry was president from 1952 until 1960. the term
“President” was changed to “Manager” in 1973, and N.C. Hooker was
manager from 1973 to 1978. in 1981, Junior Booth was manager. From
1982 until now, Dean Hartgrove has been the manager, except for the
years 1988-1989 in which Hobson Petree was manager.
The secretaries and treasurers of the Stokes County Agricultural
Fair have been: 1951, Forest H. Harmon, secretary; 13 years, Glenn
Ashburn served as secretary and treasurer; 1965, Glenn Ashburn,
secretary and Dempsey Lily, treasurer; 1966 and 1967, Glenn Ashburn
and Allen White, treasurer,; 1968 and 1969, Glenn Ashburn, accountant
and Dean Hartgrove secretary and treasurer.
Dean Hartgrove served as secretary and treasure for nine years. In
1979, Author Smith was secretary and treasurer. Kathleen Mendenhall
served as secretary since 1980 to the present. The treasurer for 1980 and
1981 was Author Smith, and in 1982, Kyle Mabe took over the position.
Ralph Hartgrove became the treasurer in 1983 and continues to hold
Vice-presidents or assistants to presidents or managers at various
times were: G.J. Moser, N.C. Hooker, Dean Hartgrove, Jim Jones, Reggie
Spainhour, Robert Southern, Dempsey Lilly, Arthur Smith, Gene Pratt,
Junior Booth, Allen White, Crawford Shouse and Grady Martin.
Mrs. C.V. Kiser (Ruth) served as chairman of the Women’s
Department, which is now the nine departments on the first floor of
the Legion Building, for 17 years. Estelle Underwood was co-chairman
with Mrs. Kiser. For three years, Estelle Underwood and Kathleen
Mendenhall were co-chairmen. For the past 29 years Kathleen
Mendenhall has managed these nine departments.
The first section of the Legion building (approximately 40 feet by
30 feet) was built in 1946. Two wings were constructed later, and many
additions were also built.
In 1950, construction was started on the first barn. The new barn
was dedicated on March 21, 1996. These barns have been used for horse
shows as well as livestock entries and poultry entries at the fair. The
barns have served during other functions as well.
Fair officials made many efforts to get rid of the “girlie” show. They
had bad publicity because of it, and finally, in 1987, the “girlie” show was
The biggest fair attraction during the 1970s was a wrestling gorilla.
People came from other states to view this attraction.
One year during the 1970s, the carnival failed to show up. A
few rides were obtained by a booking agent, and the event was fairly
successful after all.
During the night of the 1981 fair, there was such a downpour of rain
that water ran through the barn. Someone called Dempsey Lilly, and he
and some other members rescued the animals. The water was so deep
that pigs were swimming.
We have worked with many carnivals, but consider this year’s
rides as one of the best. Mr. and Mrs. Stine (now deceased) of Stines
Amusements provided Midway events and rides in previous years for
our fair. As in years past, this years fair has hot dogs, cotton candy,
exhibits of baked goods, canned foods, home furnishings, sewing, fine
arts, crafts, flowers, two youth divisions, horticulture, bees, honey,
tobacco and school exhibits. Many animals will be exhibited including
livestock, poultry, pigeons and rabbits.
There are many booths that represent different groups: commercial,
Extension Homemakers, Boy Scouts, FHA, FFA, 4-H, and best farm and
home exhibits were judged.
For the past several years, we have had a Senior Citizens Fun
Festival on Friday, which draws a big crowd.
The success of the Stokes County Agricultural Fair has been a
combined effort of the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary
members working with the Stokes County Cooperative Extension
Office, King Fire Department, King Police Department, Stokes County
Sheriff’s Department, exhibitors in Stokes and folks from the adjoining
counties. Humdreds of volunteers also work during fair week.
We are pleased to extend an invitation to the people of Stokes and adjoining counties, to participate in the 2016 Stokes County Fair.
Stokes County Fair- Sponsored by King American Legion
Provide Competition, Entertainment and Fellowship to the Stokes County Community.
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