In the early 1970s, a number of community leaders got together with Jesse Godbold, Clay County Agricultural Agent, and determined that the county’s agricultural identity and heritage were worthy of being showcased for the citizens of Clay County, especially its youth.
Some of the original forward-thinkers who dreamed up the Clay County Agricultural Fair included people like Claude Kelly, Sam Saunders, Merrill Glisson, Lanny Lancaster, and Tommy Thomas. They, along with a host of others including Sarah Boe, Jennings Murrhee, Jesse Godbold, Dr. William Bazley, and Marcia Barber, helped generate the idea to put on the first fair — a fair that would continue to keep “agriculture” in its name and as its theme.
They all shared the dream of the importance of Clay County’s rich agriculture heritage – a heritage worth showcasing forever for future generations to enjoy. An annual county fair was the way to go, they said, but stipulated that “agriculture” remain the focal point of this event.
Their Dream Takes Shape
Their dream began to take shape in 1972 when 28 acres of land for the Clay County Agriculture Center was purchased by Clay County through a sizable donation by the Paul E. Reinhold Family. The improvements were started by the county in 1973 with the construction of an arena, concession stand and restrooms. In 1976, through the work of Clay County Agricultural Extension Director “County Agent” Jesse Godbold, a grant was received from the federal government for construction of the Agricultural Extension Office complex. A group of interested citizens got together, along with many community leaders and formed the Clay County Fair Association in the late 70s. They named Sam Saunders as president.
For much more information about the history of the Paul E. Reinhold Agricultural Fairgrounds, please visit https://www.claycountyfair.org/p/about/147.
For event information, at the fairgrounds and across Clay County, visit www.exploreclay.com.