A Look At The Oklahoma State Fair's 113-Year History

Monday, September 14th 2020, 5:32 pm
By: News 9

The Oklahoma State Fair would have begun this week, but because of COVID-19, it canceled for the first time in the fair's 113-year history.

This week, News 9 is bringing you memories of the fair, beginning with its rich history.

The tradition of the Oklahoma State Fair predates even the state. The first state fair was in Oct. 5, 1907, a month before statehood. 

Back then, the state fairgrounds were at NW 10th and Douglas where Douglas High School now sits. In the early days, horse racing was the biggest draw but folks also enjoyed livestock shows, the carnival and midway.

“Men are wearing business suits, women are wearing dresses,” said Scott Munz, the senior vice president marketing and sales for the fair. “It was a dress up affair. It was a big deal to go to the fair and see what was new and different in the state.”

The Great Depression curtailed some of the larger events. During World War II, the federal government wanted to cancel all state fairs. So, in Oklahoma, they called it a festival and the fair went on.

“Those war years were pretty tough, but I like to say there was no disruption of having activities out here on the property,” said Munz.

In 1953, the Fair moved to its current location at NW 10th and May Avenue. A move made possible by a land swap with the school district. 

The new 435 acre property allowed the fair to expand and grow, adding attractions modeled after great landmarks in our country like the Space Tower, the monorail and the arch.

“Each time one of those attractions opened up, it gave the public another reason to come out and enjoy the fair, in addition to the exhibits and the livestock and the food and the carnival rides and stuff,” said Munz.

The fair continues to grow today. Most recently thanks to MAPS 3, the single largest project on property was completed with the addition of the Bennett Expo Hall.

New attractions are added all the time. Recently a sky high wheel, the largest traveling Ferris wheel in North America which takes fair-goers 155 feet in the air.