County Fair History
Records show that the Fulton County Fair Association was formed
and incorporated by the State of Arkansas on September 17, 1919.
It was a for-profit organization and memberships were sold for
$5 each. The authorized capital stock was $5,000. Incorporators
were: C. W. Pardew, S. M. Reaves, J. T. Livingston, Race
Humphries and Lamar Waters.
The fair grounds were located near the present Salem Municipal
Airport. Records show that 4,000 people were at the 1921 fair
and came by wagon and the new Model T Ford car. The events were
horse races, trick riders and baseball. At the early fairs many
people camped at the fair which gave them a chance to visit with
neighbors. Vester Williams, a long time historian of Fulton
County, tells in his August 25, 1966 newspaper article that
schools played a big part in the fair. During the early fairs
schools would compete at the county fair in recitations,
spelling and ciphering matches and in athletic contests.
The crash of the stock market in 1929, the great
and the war stopped the fair in the county. Records indicate
that for almost twenty years there was no Fulton County Fair.
The fair resumed in the early 1950's at the old high school as a
non-profit organization. Some of the board members in the early
50's were Obed Maguffee, Jim Bob Plumlee, Linn Thomas, Hester
Harris, Ora Campbell, and Iris and Nell Everett. Today these
board members have children and grandchildren who are serving as
board members and volunteers for the Fulton County Fair.
Sometime prior to 1955 the fair relocated to Preacher Roe Ball
Park. Arnold Cheek was the fair manager in 1955 and some of the
other board members were: Walter Nesbitt, Ray Hester, George
Meyer, Everett Lowrance, and Clarence Morris. Admission to the
1955 fair was 25 cents for children and 50 cents for adults.
The fair board selected youth to assist the adults with the fair
exhibits in 1970. Beef cattle superintendents were John Brink
and Forest Bassham; dairy cattle was supervised by Raydean
Prewett and Roger Kinder. Wayne Southard and Jim Watkins were in
charge of poultry and rabbits. Margaret Holland and Debbie
Caldwell were women's department superintendents. Lora Owens and
Marilyn Benton were in the flower department. Iris Everett and
Kerry Roberts served as horticulture supervisors and Clessie
Watson and Aileen Paysinger were in charge of educational
A fire destroyed the exhibit building at Preacher Roe Park in
1973 and since fair officials realized that the ball park was
not big enough for the fair any more, the decision was made to
re-locate to a larger area. The community came together and 10
acres of land was purchased by the City of Salem with help from
the Fulton County Fair Association, Ozark Mountain Music Makers,
and North Arkansas Electric Cooperative. This land included the
current city pool and the club house. This became the home of
the OMMM weekly Saturday night show, the county fair, and NAEC's
annual meeting. A contest was held to name the facility and
Betsy Benton was the winner with the name "Salem Civic Center." The theater building and a cattle barn were added to the civic
center and the 1973 county fair was held in the new location.
Some of the fair officials involved in making this move were
Salem Mayor Gary Clayton, Norma Ferguson, Ronald Plumlee,
Doraine Paysinger, Louise Ferguson, and Owen Biles. In the late
1970’s a second barn added to the Fairgrounds/Civic Center
Tractor pulling was soon added to the fair events and there was
a need for an arena. In 1985 the Fulton County Fair Association
purchased 10 acres of land from Ronald and Gail Plumlee
adjoining the Civic Center and expanded the fairgrounds to 20
acres. Fulton County and individuals donated labor to construct
a 2000 seat arena and concession stand where the truck and
tractor pull and bull riding, and rodeos were held. Some of the
fair board members in 1985 were Jim Walling, Doraine Paysinger,
Ronald Plumlee, Jackie Clayton, Sherry Clayton, Frank Rowlett,
and Noble and Carolyn Lewis.
A third livestock barn was constructed in 2001 to house swine
exhibits. Additional acreage for parking was donated to the Fair
Association in 2003 by Ron and Gail Plumlee. Two parking areas
have been constructed on this land and a third lot is under
The Hickinbotham-Miller Exhibit Building was completed in 2004.
This 7,000 square foot climate controlled building has a full
kitchen and is used by the community during the fair off-season
for meetings, weddings, family reunions, events, etc.
Two new events were added in 2005. A Summer Demolition Derby is
held in June and the Fulton County Motor Cross is in July.
Volunteers are a vital part of the Fulton County Fair. The
number of volunteers continues to increase each year. In 2005
over 150 people donated time to the Fulton County Fair.