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The Great Darke County Fair: 5 things to know about its more than 160-year history

For more than 160 years The Great Darke County Fair, known as one of the best in the state, has drawn visitors to Greenville.

A scene from The Great Darke County Fair in 1975. DAYTON DAILY NEWS ARCHIVE

Here are 5 things to know about the fair, according to its historical narrative: 

1. The very first. The first fair was held for two days in September 1853. The county seat, Greenville, was selected for the site. In 1870 the fairgrounds moved to its current site on Sweitzer Street. 

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2. Thrilling demonstrations. More than 28,000 people attended the 43rd fair in 1898. One of the highlights that year was “Famous Professor Hannon,” who ascended in a balloon and parachuted out in front of the crowd. 

3. A family affair. Admission to the earliest fairs was 25 cents a person or $1 for a family. Visitors packed baskets of food and crocks of lemonade into horse-drawn buggies for a day at the fair. 

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4. Find a seat. Grandstand entertainment became popular in 1948. The Duke of Paducah and Bradley Kincaid, two radio entertainers, kept the crowds happy. An auto thrill show and a circus called Sawdust and Spangles were also big-time thrillers. 

A scene from The Great Darke County Fair in 1967. DAYTON DAILY NEWS / WRIGHT STATE UNIVERSITY SPECIAL COLLECTIONS

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5. Closed three times. There were three years the fair was not held during its long history. The Civil War halted the fair in 1862 and 1863 and in 1949 the fear of polio kept the fair from opening.

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