As the fourth of July approaches every summer the people of Butler anxiously await the nine days of fun that surround the Butler Fair. It’s a place where the family-oriented lifestyle of the country blends together with the dazzling lights of city night-life to provide entertainment for everyone. The Butler Fair has been a yearly tradition since 1856 and has now grown to be the largest agricultural fair in Western Pennsylvania.
The first Butler Fair was a combination of several smaller fairs from the area near Kearns Crossing. The next year the fair was hosted in the city of Butler where it flourished on a 33 acre tract of land. The fair contained a half-mile race track which drew in harness racers with their horses from far and wide.
In 1902 the fair moved a second time when the Standard Steel Car Company bought the property for the construction of a railroad car plant. The Butler Fair moved slightly west of its previous location to a 60 acre plot of land. A midway, race track, grandstand, and cattle sheds were built to accommodate the exhibitions and livestock as the fair continued to grow in prominence. The fair had become such a staple of summer leisure that many businesses in Butler closed for at least one day during the week of fair.
After World War II, the expansion of the city forced the fairgrounds to move once again when a new high school was built on site. The Butler Fair settled into its current location on Route 422 in Prospect, PA. The fair became grander than ever as roads were paved and permanent buildings were constructed.
The fair continues to be a place for the agricultural community to proudly display their crops and livestock that they raise year-long. Members of 4-H and Future Farmers of America bring their project animals for the week to present and to practice their showmanship. Spectators can see a variety of horse shows from harness racing, obstacle course log-pulling, barrel racing, to traditional riding competitions. Other animals such as cows, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, and rabbits are judged for best-looking market animal.
Although traditionally the fair’s focus is agriculture, a variety of other activities have accompanied the expansion of the fair. Near the barns is a plethora of carnival food and games along the midway. The Butler Fair also boasts a collection of rides like the Ferris wheel, The Claw, The Ring of Fire, and other thrilling rides. Every night a special show can be viewed from the grandstands such as school bus derbies, demolition derbies, and truck pulls. Another favorite at the fair is the Y108 Freedom Festival which draws in hundreds of people for an all-day musical display.
Since its beginning in 1856 the Butler Fair has been an annual escape for city and country-folk alike and continues to be a celebrated event in Butler County.