The Tooele Transcript Bulletin travels back through six decades of the Tooele County Fair to relive the tradition, history and fun of the annual event.
In 1959, Tooele County Commissioners Willis Smith, George Buzianis and Sterling Halladay wrote a welcome invitation to all residents of Tooele County to attend the fair and prepare an exhibit for it. They wrote, “the purpose of the fair was to acquaint the people of the county with the products and industries of the county; to stimulate improvement in the raising of fruits, crops and livestock; to improve homemaking practicåes; to provide a wholesome type of recreation; and to to stimulate community spirit and enterprise.”
The 1959, the opening Thursday featured a ferris wheel and merry-go-round on the grounds near National Guard Armory and a Fair Queen contest at the North Tooele Stake. The newly-crowned queen officially opened the fair at 6 p.m. The fair continued with flower show, Dorothy Searle Dance Review and a fashion show along with the viewing of entries beautiful hand-crafted items and fruits and vegetables from local gardens.
Jump ahead a decade to the 1969 fair, Miss Junie Gay Hunt “had the crown placed on her head and walked off with the title of Miss Tooele County for the 1969-70 year, after the contest, held on Thursday evening in the Grantsville High School Auditorium.” Hunt was selected from a group of seven competing in the talent by yodeling and singing in a western style as she accompanied herself on the guitar.
At the horse show “Marvu Twist” netted owner Gail Martin the Grand Champion Mare prize. The Tooele County Livestock show was held at the Grantsville Show grounds where 36 beef cattle, 30 lambs and 22 swine were sold during the Saturday show.
Skip forward to 1979 where the fair became a three day addition tucked into the newly launched “Landmark Days” in its second year. The Livestock Show kicked off the festivities with sports tournaments. The county fair was held at the Tooele Junior High School with its traditional blue-ribbon 4-H events as well as an art show. Landmark Days continued with the final day including a race from Stockton to Tooele, a parade, CowJazz concert and a fireworks Finale.
If you were looking for a high-jean contest 1989s fair was you ticket. Restless Heart played as the headliner taking the stage on the Tooele High School Football Field with tickets costing $10. There was also a lot of local talent to be enjoyed with a Farm Bureau Talent Find kicking off Saturday’s event schedule. Those with a strong arm could test their strength in the arm wrestling contest also held that day. Events were held at the Tooele City County Complex (now known as the Dow James Building and Park) and the Bit and Spur Rodeo Grounds.
In 1998, the Livestock Show and Demolition Derby, as part of the county fair, were held at the not quite completed Deseret Peak Complex. The entire fair moved to the complex when it opened in 1999. The annual fair was billed as featuring “entertainment for everyone.” Along with the traditional carnival rides, agriculture and craft displays the fair featured non-traditional entertainment such as a 4×4 truck pull, monster trucks and a demolition derby. The City of Fun Carnival also set up 12 rides for patrons to enjoy.
In the 2000s the Tooele County Fair’s events have been held at the Deseret Peak Complex with the demolition derby drawing thousands of spectators from across the state.
In 2009, almost every 4-H exhibit table had an entry from Rylee Shafer. The 12-year-old Rush Valley resident entered 23 items in the 4-H exhibits. Three entries earned her sweepstakes ribbons. Nightly fireworks, a rodeo and free concert featuring Jagertown and David Ball were a draw to the annual event that has been showcasing and entertaining Tooele County for over six decades.