From Hudsonville Community Fair Website:The Chicago World Fair inspired the start in 1933 of the Hudsonville Fair. Originally the fair was held at the high school gymnasium. The Fair exhibits and programs included band concerts, spelling bees, and local talent. Later for some animal competition the exhibits were brought in for a one day show. Baseball and parades were often the biggest attraction. Products of the farm and home were exhibited: poultry, lowland crops, fruit, highland crops, calves, hunting dogs, needle and fancywork, canned and baked goods. This fair began as a three-day event (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, September 11, 12 and 13) and continues to this day, spanning a week and drawing more than 80,000 through its gates.
Most of the community might find it difficult to envision the Hudsonville Community Fair any place other than on its current forty acre site on the west side of the city. The Hudsonville Public School located at School and Madison was the center of activity for the early years of the fair. The antiques and artwork were displayed in the basement of the school. The city street served as a race track and there was horse racing right down Curtis Street. The fair started with farm produce, canned goods, and needlework. Livestock was added to the fair later.
Stories were told, and there are pictures to prove, that horse races were conducted west of the school where there was still a lot of open land. There are few recorded records of these events today but reports indicate that there was very good response from the community to make this event successful.
About 1950 or before the fair was moved to Hughes Park where, over the years, several buildings were built. The buildings included a round roofed 48' x 96' building for programs, a 24' x 100' and 24' x 50' building for livestock, a block building for an office and a food building. They did rent some tents for more displays. They laid down a concrete slab for tractor pulling. There was no fence around the area. The income was donations, a parking charge, food returns and later a carnival. The fair was well attended but they did not have enough income. Later tractor and horse pulling were the main outside attractions and the inside program which continued to include local talent drew a good attendance. After some 29 years from 1934 through 1962 their net worth was only about $4,000.00 including the buildings, chairs and wooden bleacher seats. The park was too small. It was time to move.
The fair was moved to the new grounds in 1963. The total property that year was less than 14 acres. Only the December 26 minutes from 1962 are on record but other records show that 13+ acres were bought for $6,000.00.
Most of this area was brush, plus a couple large trees and an old apple orchard that we were advised to clear off completely. Two trees remaining from that date are east of the buildings and one is near the shop. The rows of trees on the north parking lot were spared. The rows of trees south of the arena building were not a part of the new grounds at that time.
The early fairs were pleasant times; people came around, enjoyed exhibits and had time to spend talking with each other. Today, the Hudsonville Community Fair is the center for 3,168 4-H exhibits and 4,331 open entries for all ages. Over $39,000 was given away in premiums last year. With a gate attendance of 80,000 it is the hub of activity for the community beginning on Sunday and ending late Saturday. In August it represents the last hurrah for young people and families before school begins the following week. The Hudsonville Community Fair, with deep roots in our past, has the vision to continue growing to offer western Michigan the "Biggest Little Fair in the State".