Structural History & Virtual Tour - Links
Colorado State Fair
The following history is taken from the 1941 Colorado State Fair Souvenir Program:
"The Colorado State Fair had its actual beginning many years before most
persons who read this program were born - from the first exposition on until
this great show almost, "three score and ten" years have passed.
Although the exposition did not receive cash assistance from the state until
1903, the first exposition which preceded the State Fair was held on October 9,
1872, when the Southern Colorado Agricultural and Industrial Association held
its first show.
The exposition operated with varying degrees of success at the Lake Minnequa
grounds and soon after the turn of the century, somewhere around 1901, moved the
present 80-acre site.
At this time the show was operated by the State Fair Association, a
non-profit organization owned by Pueblo people who were anxious to see the
exposition survive. These folks, in 1903,
| were successful in getting a state
appropriation to pay the agriculture and horticulture premiums. This assistance
meant much to the struggling exposition and it was able to carry on a few more
The campaign to secure additional state assistance with a degree of success,
at least encouragement, in 1915 when the state legislature voted an
appropriation for the State Fair. Governor Carlson went into office on an
economy platform, however, lopped a $10,000 appropriation from the State Fair,
via he veto method, and the exposition received another set-back.
Real action came in 1917, when the late Senator W. O. Peterson, Senator Frank
H. Means - who is now manager of the fair, Perry Dunlap and other fighters
succeeded in getting a State Fair Commission created.
Pueblo Folks deeded the 80-acre tract to the State. The fair, in addition to
receiving official recognition by the appointment of a commission, received a
mill levy of .01 of a mill for operation and maintenance.
And that was the real beginning of the State Fair. Its growth and development
since that time - especially in recent years - is well known to most persons…
For eight years, from 1917 to 1927, the State Fair got along with the mill
levy of .01 of a mill. In 1927, however, boosters for the fair were successful
in getting the legislature to raise the levy to .03 of a mill for maintenance
and operation, where it now stands …
The building program at the State Fair Grounds, started more than decade ago
and which is going forward , has transformed that original 80-acre tract of
barren prairie land into one of the finest and most durable State Fair plants in
The present steel and concrete bandstand, which seats 4,000 persons -
comfortably - was built in 1930. It replaced an old frame grandstand which had
weathered the years and served its purpose well.
First among the "durable" type of buildings that were constructed
on the grounds were the 4-H club dormitory buildings, the poultry and cattle
barns and the Exposition building. All were built in the 1920 - 1930 era and
were constructed of red brick. With the construction of these buildings and the
new grandstand came the first indication that the State Fair was looking to the
||Then, starting about 1934, came the start of the real building program. The
mammoth hog and sheep barn which is recognized as one of the finest buildings of
its kind in the United States was built in 1934 to 1936. It was constructed of
native stone, quarried only a few miles from the State Fair Grounds, and was
built along sound construction lines. When this building, 100 feet wide and 365
feet long, was completed, it stood as a symbol of what could be done toward
building a State Fair plant that would withstand the years.
Federal Government co-operated in its work program. The state co-operated in
supplying materials and Pueblo co-operated in every way it could.
The racing plant, composed of 215 separate stable rooms and a large paddock
soon came into existence. This plant was laid out, built of the same native
stone and completed stood as still another monument to what could be done.
Horsemen from mile around inspected the new plant, termed it one of the finest
in the United States. This fine new plant replaced the rickety old frame stables
which long ago had served their purpose.
|The came more buildings, the 4-H club auditorium, the 4-H club dining hall,
the State Fair Office building, the underground stables in the rodeo area, the
new stone walls.
And finally, when Governor Ralph Carr spoke at the cornerstone ceremony for
the new Agricultural building during the last State Fair, he said, "These
buildings…they stand as a promise that the State Fair is forever
The State Fair of today, with its 80 acres packed to the brim with something
doing every minute…its paved streets and concrete sidewalks…its fine
buildings…its shady parks…its splendid program and national reputation,
stand as a monument to those men who, in 1879, decided that the products of this
vast empire should be displayed to the world."