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Wheeling Island Fairgrounds

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➤ Wheeling Island Fairgrounds Quick Links

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Wheeling Island Fairgrounds

Long before the first state fair, Wheeling Island had long been the site of carnivals and fairs held in the areas known as "Bridge Park" and the "Marina". Held on Wheeling Island, the First Annual Fair & Stock Exhibition began October 9-12, 1866. It wasn't until 1881, however, that the first event to be called the state fair occurred in Wheeling. The West Virginia State Fair Association was formed in May 1881, purchasing the "a valuable tract of twenty-five acres at the South point of Wheeling Island," with the first exhibition occurring October 10-15, 1881. The State Fair Association operated the fairgrounds and Exposition Building until 1931. In 1937, a new racetrack was constructed under the auspices of the West Virginia Jockey Club and the land formerly known at "State Fair Park" was renamed "Wheeling Downs."

➤ "The W. Va. State Fair," by Mrs. Bert H. Swartz, Secretary W. Va. State Fair Association, Forward Wheeling, July 1931.


➤ Southern tip of Wheeling Island — now occupied by Wheeling Island Casino and Racetrack




➤ "The Fair Grounds." Wheeling Register, August 19, 1881, p. 4
➤ "Fair Directors Outline Plans" Wheeling Intelligencer, April 28, 1915. p. 6
➤ "Improvements Complete at the Fair Grounds." Wheeling Intelligencer, September 3, 1915. p. 9

Additional Resources

➤ WV Vertical File: West Virginia State Fair, Closed Stacks, non-circulating, ask for access at Reference Desk.
➤ Archives Collection: William Carney Collection on Wheeling History: Clipping file on State Fair. Call #: Archives 2019-010, Box # 10. Must make appointment to view. Call 304-232-0244. 

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