In 1951 a group of Jaycees saw the need to establish a permanent facility for the agriculture community to show their ware. They also believed it would be a terrific educational experience for children in grades 1 through 12. Dave Clay, Henry Bernhardt and John Fisher headed up the project along with many others.
The first location was the McCanless property on South Main Street in Salisbury. Tents served as barns, exhibit space and show arenas. The weather always played a big factor with limited facilities and no pavement, thus causing the move to its present location at 1560 Julian Road in 1957.
Ten Jaycees from Salisbury signed a bank note for $50,000 to get the project started. Dave Clay was named first Fair Manager, serving from 1954-1965. He was followed by Ligon Gillespie (1966-1972), Charles Roakes, Jr. (1973-1976), and Eric Ennis (1977-2007). John Love is currently the Fair Manager. Serving along with Mr. Love is Mickey Broadway (Exhibit Manager), Linda Spillman (Secretary/Treasurer), Henry Rouse (Grounds Manager). The Faith and Spencer Jaycees have 4 members representing the clubs on the board, they are Randall Barger, Clay Boger, Branson Lefler and Thomas Phillips/Amanda Bowman, Melissa Branham, AJ Waller and Caroline Waller.
Many local fire departments and civic groups help construct the fairgrounds. Among these were Locke, Liberty and Miller Ferry Fire departments, Salisbury Optimost and Millbridge Ruritans. They manned a food booth for years to help raise a major source of their income to distribute within the community. Millbridge Ruritans are presently still active with the fairgrounds serving up the traditional Chicken & Dumplings that were started by Liberty Fire Department.
The Salisbury Jaycees started the fair association and brought the Faith and Spencer Jaycees into it. The Faith and Spencer Jaycees continue to run and organize this event using it as their main source of revenue (75%) to use to put back into the community. They continue to do this and with the help of the community and farmers of Rowan County have allowed this fair to be one of the top fairs for cattle shows in the state. Without their help we could not have a successful fair.
The Board and Jaycees do this because we care about the community and the people in it. We do this because it is “fun”. So come on out and support the Rowan County Agriculture and Industrial Fair.