Program "Meet Me on the Midway: Three Centuries of Fairs in North Carolina," September 12, 2017

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Meet Me on the Midway: Three Centuries of Fairs in North Carolina

Please meet us at the North Carolina Collection Gallery Tuesday, September 12th at 4:30pm for a guided tour for library staff of the latest exhibit at Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill: “Meet Me on the Midway: Three Centuries of Fairs in North Carolina.”  Learn about Raleigh’s first rollercoaster accident, the history of the midway, the first agricultural fair in America, and African American industrial fairs.  Exhibit curators will discuss the background of fairs in North Carolina and share some additional stories not included in the exhibit.  Stick around for a Gallery reception and, if you have time, please join us at 5:30 for a program presented by North Carolina State Fair Manager, Wesley Wyatt.  Mr. Wyatt will talk about the history of the North Carolina State Fair and his more than 40 years of involvement.

Hope to see you on September 12th! For hours, directions, and parking, see Wilson Library’s visit us page.


More about the exhibit:

July 5 – October 31, 2017

The tradition of the American agricultural fair has its roots in Massachusetts, where Elkanah Watson exhibited a pair of sheep in Berkshire County in 1809 for the benefit of farmers. Other states soon followed, including North Carolina.

Early North Carolina fairs included exhibits to show farmers the latest developments in raising crops and animals. Fairs also provided welcome social interaction and entertainment for rural families. By the 1890s, the carnival midway with its sideshows and amusement rides had become a fair mainstay.

Over the decades, fair entertainment has evolved along with the changing interests of fairgoers. Modern fairs still offer traditional contests for best produce, livestock, and handicrafts – but now they also feature competitions in twenty-first-century skills such as web design. Revived traditional skills such as home beer brewing have also found a home at today’s fairs.

Today, more than forty agricultural fairs happen in North Carolina each year. This exhibition examines the origins of the agricultural fair and the changes that have kept it relevant for more than two hundred years.