A scene on the midway in 1909
Eastern Michigan State Fair – 1883
195 Midway Street
In 1883 the Imlay City Driving Club was formed and a track was leveled off for buggy races. A year later the Imlay City Agricultural Society was formed. The first Society-sponsored fair occurred on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, October 7-9, 1896. The Agricultural Society included Lapeer, Oakland, Macomb and St. Clair counties. The south half of the current fairgrounds had been purchased for $1,000. Admission to the first fair was 25 cents and it was all horses and buggies.
The inaugural Fair Board officers were T. B. Keyworth, president; Nelson Haskin, vice president; William Swan, secretary; and D. S. Marshall, treasurer. Directors serving a one-year term were William Sleeman, Will Elliott and J. P. Egglestone. Serving two-year directorships were Issac Willis, George Jones, M. J. Haskin, Jim Sheppard, Fred Pennington, N. W. Stock and D. V. Yerex.
During the years 1919-1921, the fair grew due to the arrival of the Royal Oak Booster Club who chartered trolley cars on the Interurban line from Detroit. On a daily basis, three or four trolleys holding 50 people each were brought to the fair. At that time the midway was in the middle of a racetrack. A “Bowery” (dance hall) was also on the midway. The fair included a baseball field, a duck pond, chickens, and rabbits and in the southwest corner of the grounds were the horse, cattle and sheep barns and pigpens.
In 1933, the Lapeer County Agricultural Society was chartered by the state and operated as the Lapeer County Fair. In 1951 the Lapeer County Fair was renamed by the State Fair Board as the Eastern Michigan Fair. In 2012 the Eastern Michigan Fair was renamed and is now known as the Eastern Michigan State Fair.