SMITHFIELD - There was much excitement in 1982, when the Jefferson County Fair moved from the cramped Smithfield Fairgrounds to the 1,300-acre site at Friendship Park.
This year will mark 30 years the fair has been held on the grounds.
In 1982, the fair book read, "Welcome to the Jefferson County Fair of 1982. We trust that you are as happy to be here as we are. We thank you for your patience during the final years on the old fairgounds and look forward to your enjoyment of the new location."
The fair board at that time promised a new beginning on grounds, and the area has grown by leaps and bounds.
The move had originally been slated for 1967. Earth-moving equipment was moved in to prepare the way, but the change did not happen for 15 more years.
Many goals were set and missed until that 1982 occasion.
In the meantime, the development of Friendship Park continued, with the addition of a lake that enhanced the area.
In 1982, when all grace periods seemed to have expired, John Finney, fair board president at the time, said, "There will be a fair at Friendship Park, or no fair at all." What followed was hard work through that summer to make it happen.
Some of those who shared the hopes for the park and the fairground development were Russell Hesske, a county commissioner; Ray Long, former president of the fair board; and Blanchard "Pep" Yoder, Donald Powell and Richard Schneider, who served on the first committee for the park development.
Others appointed by the commissioners to the first committee were Joe Hickle of Hanna Coal Co, David Robinson and Nicholas Kaschak.
Hickle worked with James Reilly, vice president in charge of operations at Hanna Coal, when a letter of intent was sent to the commissioners and later when a deed for the initial 1,100 acres was recorded.
Hickle commented that the wording on the deed was for a park, fairgrounds and recreational area.
Now, the road leading up the hill to the midway and livestock area has been named Joe Hickle Way in his honor.
The ultimate destination at the top of the hill will be alive with visitors starting today when a 4-H award presentation and style review will be held, and on Monday for the opening ceremonies and an antique and farm stock tractor pull will be held.
The actual fair begins at 8 a.m. Tuesday.