Isanti County Fair History
-Photos courtesy Isanti County Historical Society
The first Isanti County Fair was held in 1877 in the Village of Cambridge. During the early years; the Isanti County Fair was an agricultural event which was held on land just southwest of the original Courthouse in Cambridge. In 1900, the Isanti County Agricultural Society was formed and sold stocks to help acquire the funds for the purchase of a new spot for the grounds. A second site was selected just east of town, but after only 1 year was abandoned as it was viewed as too far from town and inaccessible during periods of inclement weather.
The Fair had no grounds for the next 10 years and the annual fair utilized buildings in the Village of Cambridge for exhibit space and areas of the City were cordoned off for various entertainment, political speeches and baseball games. Horse racing was even held on the street leading from the river towards downtown.
By 1913, after receiving a grant from the Isanti County Commissioners, land was purchased where the Cambridge Mall now stands and was used as the fairgrounds for 60 years. Among the buildings and barns moved and erected on the grounds, was the Cambridge schoolhouse which was used for the Creative Activities exhibits. But when the city began to grow around the grounds, the Agricultural Society once again began to look for new grounds. In 1968, 40 acres further east of Cambridge were purchased, which is the site of the present fairgrounds. Within 3 years, the livestock barns and some
buildings were moved there with the first fair held on the new grounds being in 1971.
The first grandstand events held in 1971 were a Tractor Pull, Demolition Derby and Snowmobile races in the grandstand area. During the 70’s, the fair acquired more buildings with the Community Building constructed by the Cambridge Jaycees in 1988, and later the Bandshell stage along with the main shower house/restroom facilities were added.
Since that time, thanks to donations and help of many local Service Organizations, Clubs, local businesses, various individuals, and many hours of volunteer time; several more buildings were added and facilities continually updated. In 1998, working in cooperation with the Isanti County Historical Society, the Fairgrounds acquired more area on the north side which now serves as an overflow parking area.
Today the fairgrounds is owned and operated by the Isanti County Agricultural Society and managed by a Board of Directors consisting of 15 members. Besides the annual fair, these Directors manage the year-round affairs of the Society which include a Campground operated from May 1 to Oct 1, Storage for Boats, Cars, and RV’s over the winter months, and year round buildings and grounds facilities rentals for everything from private parties and receptions to auctions, horse shows, livestock clinics, and events needing grandstand facilities.