Butler County Fair’s Humble Beginnings
The fall season usually means county fairs come to town. The Butler County fair, hosted by the Greenville Kiwanis Club, started up the first full week of fall. While most in the community come out for the rides and fair food, the county fair really has it’s roots in friendly competition.
Most county fairs started when people would come together to compete with one another. There would be backing competitions, people would decide who had the biggest livestock or vegetables and also see who could make the best crafts. For Butler County, the judging for those competitions begins the day before the fair officially opens and happen in the James Peavy Exhibition Hall.
“It’s the history! They need to know, you know, how things used to be done,” said Arts and Crafts Exhibit Director Annie Glenn Braden. She and the other Kiwanis members wish the fair could draw in more competitors like it once did.
Braden said the interest in the crafts and food side of the fair faded drastically in the last few years. This year, only five to ten people were entered in the “youth” category.
“Oh, we are losing, we are LOSING the young people,” she said shaking her head. She added that the Peavy Hall may look full from the outside, but that’s not entirely accurate. She explained that one person will enter multiple crafts into each category, or bring several different food items to be judged. This fills the display area and makes the room appear to be fuller than it is.
The Kiwanis Club is hoping parents will bring children through the exhibition hall, to inspire them to compete next year. Braden also has a few other ideas on how to encourage participation.
“Locally, we need to get more with the art teachers and the schools, and have them have the children enter more
The rides may be a crowd favorite, but Kiwanis Club members don’t want the traditions of Butler County to fade away. The fair will continue to hold the competitions as long as the public participates.
“It’s just something that’s always been,” Braden added. “We just need to make it more important in the local people’s eyes to enter things and be involved.”
The Butler County Fair opens to the public on Wednesday, September 28 at 1 p.m. Traditionally, Butler County Schools are closed that day to encourage parents and kids to enjoy their time together at the fair. The fair closes on Saturday, October 1st.