Roots of county fair date to 1859

When was the first Jackson County Fair?

— Judy J., Ashland

We at the Since You Asked Research Unit dug through documents at the Southern Oregon Historical Society to find the answer, Judy.

County fairs had a tough time becoming annual events during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Fairgrounds were located in Medford for several years, and in Central Point, Ashland, Gold Hill and Grants Pass.

The first county fair was held in October of 1859 in Jacksonville — just months after Oregon became the 33rd state.

After that, those hoping for an annual county fair struggled to find money from ranchers and businesspeople to fund the event.

The fair started gaining steam in 1889. An annual fair began that year and continued until 1896. The area west of Central Point near Taylor Road and Grant Road hosted the event. But financial trouble soon followed until the early 20th century.

A newspaper headline described the 1908 fair as a "grand success," giving hope to what was called the Rogue River Industrial Fair. Fairgrounds rotated between locations in Jackson County and Josephine County, and the fair jumped from location to location. From 1912 until World War I, fairgrounds were located near where the Rogue Valley Mall in Medford is today.

By the mid-20th century, Rogue Valley residents started considering a Jackson County Fair. An opinion piece published by the Rogue River Times in 1957 asked, "Why Not a Jackson County Fair?" to spur conversations.

By the 1970s, the fair started seeing success after locating at the Jackson County Expo in Central Point, where it has remained since.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to

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