The Brockport Fair, always held in October, began in the 1850s at the Uplands farm on Holley Street and flourished for 57 years. Originally the annual Fair displayed agricultural exhibits.
Gradually, the Union Agricultural Society, consisting of professional men interested in agriculture, horticulture, and mechanic arts organized and for ten years leased land east of Park Avenue where they constructed one of the finest half-mile racetracks in the state. The well-kept, graded racetrack was the society’s pride. Merchants displayed agricultural implements on the inside of the racetrack and permanent structures along the outside housed floral, domestic, and other exhibits.
The popular Fair brought visitors by train from surrounding areas necessitating the addition of six railroad cars to transport the crowd. Carriage traffic at Spring Street’s main gate was so heavy that men spread straw along the route to deaden the noise of the horse-drawn carriages.
In 1879, the Brockport Union Agricultural Society incorporated and leased the land between State Street on the north, the railroad on the south, and a railroad spur on the west from the heirs of Thomas Cornes.
In stalls under the 100-seat grandstand built in 1879, merchants displayed articles for sale. Local builders also added a judge’s stand, a bandstand, and at the far east, sheds, barns, and buildings for housing animals. Nearby, a large dining hall, erected by a local restaurant owner, stood ready to greet customers.
Each day featured a special event with horse racing a favorite attraction. Prizes were awarded for the best entries in numerous categories including: horses, cattle, sheep, drawing, writing, spelling, gardening, farm crops, homemaking, canning, cooking, fruits, flowers, grains, seeds, fine arts, and photography. Horseshoe tournaments and draft and mule pulling contests were popular attractions. Sideshows and special programs drew visitors to the midway.
It was reported that an estimated crowd of 10,000 viewed 1400 exhibits during one three-day event.
The site became the Monroe County Fair from 1901 until the 1930s, but its popularity slipped and after 1920 the Monroe County Board of Supervisors subsidized it.
By 1934, the remaining vestiges of the fairgrounds consisted of the grandstand, judge’s stand, a baseball diamond, the racetrack, and three log cabins. One became the GE Clubhouse, one the Scout Cabin, which was moved to the corner of State and Oxford Streets. In 2001 the Scout Cabin was torn down. The third cabin was sold and moved to Sandy Creek for use as a summer cottage.
On March 23, 1934 village residents voted to purchase the thirty-acre parcel and turn the fairgrounds into a public playground with athletic fields. Its popularity diminished over time and in 1948 General Electric Corp. purchased the property and built a large plant for the production of small appliances.
Photographs by Chris Martin
From the writing of Emily L. Knapp, Village Historian, and A. B. Elwell