The Lake County Fair

The Fair
Float from 1912 The Mad March Hare, Volume One, 1918.
Published by Senior Class of Leesburg High School. The winter of nineteen hundred and twelve saw the beginning of the Annual Lake County Fair. The purpose of this fair is to promote cooperation between the students of the public schools and the parents of the community.
The first fair was small but it was very successful. That it stimulated interest between the schools and brought them in touch with each other was shown in the exhibits and the efforts put forth.
Our successful start was largely due to the valuable assistance of Miss Flora Brown and to the financial support of Mr. N. O. Nelson of New Orleans, Lousiana.
The organization has grown from a school to a county fair. It is the only school and county fair of its kind, that has a building for the specific purpose. The upper floor of the building is devoted entirely to school exhibits. This department has been made a success by Mrs. Hammond formerly Miss Cora Peet, our traveling teacher whose splendid efforts and enthusiasm have been an inspiration to the pupils. As a result they have sent some very creditable exhibits.
This year, one day of the fair was given to athletics. Leesburg won most of the honors. Everyone realizes that the athletic contests are an important addition. We are all very proud of Paul Miller, who won the gold medal as a reward of being the best all-round athelete in the whole county.
This fair has proven to be a great encouragement to the pupils and teachers of the county. Those that have given their time to it may feel that their efforts are greatly appreciated.   Submitted by GFAHS.

Lake County Fair ad
Through the years it has evolved into something much more.  There are  4-H animal shows and sales, a midway with all sorts of rides,  booths and exibits in several buildings as well as outside in downtown Eustis.  

In the 1940's and 50's the fair was located in downtown Eustis, to the north of the Fountain Inn hotel.  There were 4 blocks devoted to buildings of displays and a midway.  The Lake County Flower Show brought many people to view the specimens of flowers, vegetables and plants. A special section was for school age children's entries. On Thurdsay, the 2nd group of fresh flower arrangements were judged and presented for viewing.  

A large open area contained several shallow water pools with all sorts of water fowl caged in with chicken wire.  The mid-way was across Grove street.  For the week of the Fair, the 2 blocks of Grove street were closed to traffic.  Some of the exhibits had video presentations showing different areas of Lake Co.  

Cotton candy, snow cones and candied apples were available for purchase to enjoy while you walked around.  The smell of the popcorn enticed many to stop and buy.  Hotdogs were also available. Now other delicacies have been added such as elephant ears and funnel cakes.  Soft drinks, coffee, tea and milk  were sold and at the Lake County booth you could get free sample of orange juice.

The advent of road changes  made Grove street which separated the buildings from the midway  FL 19, a one way street.  It seemed that it was time to move to a larger location with room for growth.  It was suggested that it also be moved from Eustis.  In the end it remained in Eustis at the north end along Highway 44. The Flower Show  became a separate event several years after the move. Parking was no problem at the beginning but now some 50 years later more parking has been made available.  
                                 ....... Fran Smith

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May 6, 2012
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