History of Laramie County Fair Part 1
May 14, 2020
Back in 1907 when Laramie County also included what is now called Platte and Goshen County, the Laramie County fair was held in Wheatland. Hundreds of people would Load up on the train and ride the rails to take their spot in what was called Cheyenne Day at the origin of the fair. Back in 1907 the fair consisted of bake offs, animal showing, and rodeoing. While there were no rides, and no vendors, children still came from miles around to play the games and eat the food. From 1908 to 1917 the fair was usually held in September and typically on a Thursday or Friday. The main events at that time were men and women horse races and a kid’s pony race
In 1909 the fair moved to Burns. Grandstands were installed for people to watch horse races and other activities and kids continue to come from miles to show their animals. Around 1918 the fair moved to Pine Bluffs Wyoming, and an entire fairground was built at the edge of town. Upon America's entrance into World War II, the Pine Bluffs fairgrounds was modified to include sleeping quarters, eating quarters and sanitary facilities for the 90 Italian prisoners of war that were to come and live there. For two years the place where they held the yearly fair became the place where seasonal laborers would work in the local farms harvesting potatoes and beets. The Pine Bluffs fairgrounds would be used as a prisoner of war camp until the end of the war but would never return to use as a fair ground. Residents including Jack Harrison and Albin resident Don Strube would remember the prisoners working on the local farms throughout the end of the war, but only vaguely remember the fair.
An explosive 4H movement after World War Two cause the fair to move to Frontier Park in Cheyenne. While Frontier Park is indeed a large enough area to hold the Laramie County fair 4H and FFA members felt that it was more aligned to Frontier Days rather than the Laramie County Fair. Voters agreed that the two clubs should have their own area to showcase their work, and in turn voted to complete the Archer complex. It was determined that the new 800-acre area would be the perfect spot for the Laramie County Fair. Voters also agreed that their tax dollars would be used to finish the fair pavilion.
This will be the 114th year for the Laramie County fair. It is the largest and oldest fair in Wyoming and continues to be a place four 4H and FFA children to be able to showcase their work. Children competing for ribbons and showing their animals as well as their current agricultural work needed a larger place to celebrate their accomplishments. The Laramie County fair, in conjunction with their history, continued to provide children with that place. In 2004 Cheyenne concluded their purchase of the Archer complex. Current marketing and sponsorship manager Will Luna is often asked why the Laramie County fair does not have a carnival. Throughout the years 4H and FFA students have used the fair to show their animals and their year of hard work. Luna feels that the history of the fair has always supported those groups. “ Laramie County and Cheyenne has 10 amazing days of carnival rides during frontier days, we want to offer something that is different, that is going to be cost effective to families here at the fair and that is why we offer bouncy houses, kids entertainment and other activities for families instead of rides.”
Now entering their fifth year at the Archer complex Luna feels that the Laramie County fair continues to support the agricultural history of Wyoming“ I feel like having all of the livestock exhibits and shows under one roof has been fun and educational for our fair families as well as the public. We have seen more foot traffic in the livestock area than in the past so that has been a success. Our truck and tractor pull were well attended, and we had some great reviews on that. the mutton busting area was packed! The bleachers were full, fans were lined up across the arena fence, and it seemed like everyone was really enjoying the evening” Said Luna of last year's fair. This year's Laramie County fair is set to be held from July 30th to August 8th at the Archer complex. So far that has not been cancelled, and we continue to hope that by then things will be back to normal. For those of you that are fans of the annual fair plan to come out and support your local 4H and FFA kids.