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PRIZED MILESTONE: 100 Years of the E.C. County Fair

annual youth- and agriculture-focused fair celebrates century of history in July

McKenna Scherer |

STEP RIGHT ON UP. A community staple, the Eau Claire County Fair is celebrating its 100th year in 2024 and will return with familiar favorites and celebratory events at this year's event. (Photo via ECCF website)
STEP RIGHT ON UP. A community staple, the Eau Claire County Fair is celebrating its 100th year in 2024 and will return with familiar favorites and celebratory events at this year's event. (Photo via Eau Claire County Fair website)

The Eau Claire County Fair is an annual summertime favorite set to return from July 21-28, continuing to support and celebrate youth organizations, also featuring a special dinner and event for its milestone year. The blue-ribbon worthy attraction has come a heck of a long way in its 100-year span, which began back to 1924 with its inaugural year in Augusta.

The fair remained in Augusta for its first seven years before a 1930 fire resulted in its move to Fall Creek for a few years. In 1934 it was hosted in Eau Claire for two seasons, returning to Augusta thereafter until 1939 when – once again – it returned to Eau Claire in 1940. In 1941, it moved to its longtime site in Altoona, where it remained until 1996. Since then, the annual event has been hosted at the current fairgrounds on Eau Claire’s south side.

Standing tall today, the Eau Claire County Fair stretches across three barns, an arena, a main exhibit building, a dog agility ring, and an outdoor food area, chockfull of events and features for folks to enjoy. (View the grounds map online.) In celebration of its 100th year, the fair is hosting the “Cheers to 100 years” celebratory dinner, dance, and auction buyer/bidder VIP event on Saturday, July 27, from 7-11pm.

Our Fair is unique. it doesn’t have a midway. it doesn’t have a big alcohol tent throughout the fair or demolition derby. it really is about the youth exhibits and coming together as a community to have a fun time.

rachel hart-brinson

eau claire county 4-h program educator

A large draw of the fair for both participating organizations and public attendees is its plethora of livestock and animal-focused events, including a variety of exhibitions and shows: the Dairy Show at 10am, July 27; Swine Show at 3pm, July 25; Equine Fun Show at 8am on July 28; Livestock Sale of Champions at 6pm, July 27; and much more.

Some days are marked by various organizations – July 26 is Eau Claire County 4-H Day, July 27 is FFA Day, etc. – who host Opening Ceremonies at the Tribute Garden on their respective dates. Other areas on the grounds, like the Kid’s Day Tent, offer specific attractions, though most of the buildings play host to a variety of events and features.

Exhibitor and volunteer opportunities for local youths are expansive. As exhibitors, they can show off something they grew or made, and depending on the department/category, they also may have one-on-one conversations with a judge.

“There are all sorts of things one practices when showing an exhibit,” said Rachel Hart-Brinson, Eau Claire County 4-H Program Educator. “You practice talking to an adult; You practice talking to your peers; Hopefully you learn attention to detail and patience and a sense of worth. And one of the most important things is that you make relationships with adults and other youth in the program and it gives you a sense of belonging.”

Volunteer opportunities like working the food stands at the fair also offer youth life skills from planning and organization to customer service and more. While the relationship between ECCF and 4-H is longstanding and steeped in the agricultural world, there’s much more to it. The educational aspects behind 4-H as well as the experiential model is crucial, and new additions like flower and houseplant and 3-D printing categories keep offerings fresh.

“Our fair is unique,” Hart-Brinson continued. “It doesn’t have a midway. It doesn’t have a big alcohol tent throughout the fair or a demolition derby. It really is about the youth exhibits and coming together as a community to have a fun time.”

From livestock exhibitions to the Fair Lego Theme Contest, to the Lee Marsh Memorial Classic Car Show and the Ice Cream Eating Contest, there is truly something for just about anyone. Several events are free to attend, such as the Pedal Tractor Pull and the Beer, Wine & Soda Extravaganza, while others require tickets, such as the Pro Bull Riding & Barrel Racing event and Donkey Races.

Whether you’re an annual attendee or first-timer, you won’t want to miss the 100th year of the Eau Claire County Fair!

Fair fun at the 2023 event.
Fair fun at the 2023 event. (Photo by Andrea Paulseth)

Learn more about the Eau Claire County Fair, slated for July 21-28 at 5530 Fairview Drive, Eau Claire, at eauclairecountyfair.com Tickets can be purchased in advance online but are not needed for every event • Learn about donation opportunities and the Friends of the Fair organization online • Keep up with the Eau Claire County Fair on Facebook