The first Washington Fair was held in 1892 by a group of businessmen who took on the responsibility of putting on a fair in a downtown building. Previous to this event, the entire Washington State had been in an uproar trying o decide the state capital’s location. In 1892, the legislature decided, and Yakima City got granted the state fair, and Olympia retained the Capital City title. The Central Washington State Fair has been held annually in Yakima, Washington, at the State Fair Park every September.
Over a hundred acres of land were purchased, and by 1894, a racetrack., an exhibit hall, a grandstand big enough to seat 2000 people, 100 horse stalls, a mile track, and three stories-high judge stands were created.
Agricultural and livestock exhibits began pouring in from all over Washington. The State Fair held war dances, harness races, horse races, Indian races, and coyote hunts. These events continued, and around 1915, the automobile caught a lot of attention, so the State Fair displayed many cars at the Auto Show, which became one of the main attractions. But livestock, fruits and agriculture, and horse racing remained popular at the fair. Fireworks were also very popular for the night shows and free acts that were brought in to fill in the lull between the famous horse races.
Due to the Great Depression and the legislature’s refusal to approve an operating budget, the State Fair was not held in 1930 and 1931. However, the fair was carried again from 1932-1936, but it was not a success like it had been. Therefore, the legislature abolished the State Fair, and none were held after that.
On April 1939, a group of 45 people representing agriculture, business, and livestock breeders, met to discuss the possibility of holding a fair in Yakima. The State Fairgrounds were available as they had little use since 1936. One week later, the group met again to organize a fair on the last three days of September with the help of the State’s 4-H (as they owned a piece of land on the State Fairgrounds), but they had no funds. They decided to create de Central Washington Fair Association; eight men contributed to pay for the incorporation papers. Soon after, the fair was organized and incorporated to promote Washington’s agricultural and livestock industry.
The members of the Director’s Board were elected, and since the 1939 fair was a huge success, the board’s directors stayed the same till 1942, when the governor asked that all fairs in Washington be canceled because of World War II.
On August 14, 1945, just three days after V-J Day, the Director’s Board met and worked to accommodate the fair in 1946. From 1946 to 1976, the fair was an annual 5-day event. In 1977, due to ever-growing crowds, the board decided to expand the fair to a 9-day event. And in 1996, a second Sunday was added, making it a 10-day fair.