From The History of Franklin County, Kansas ©1994, Curtis Media
Used by Permission
Quite a number of years ago, in the horse and buggy days, some picnic fairs were held in Sisler’s Grove (Burgdorfer Farm) at the north edge of Richmond. At that time, all exhibits were displayed out of doors. There was one ride and that was a merry-go-round, powered by a gasoline engine. According to the fair files, the first fair was held about 1900. After some years, the fairs were discontinued.
In 1925 a small group of men from Richmond and the surrounding community gathered together in one of the downtown business houses. The question of having a small fair was discussed—pro and con—its advantages to the farmer, its educational features, and its value to the community in general. At this meeting, it was decided to have a fair to be held August 26-27 and to be known as the Richmond Fair. At the first fair, premiums were offered in 181 classes.
The interest in the first fair was so great that it was decided to have another fair in 1926. The interest in the fair has increased from year to year, so that the fair has been held each year since that time.
In 1930 Senator Arthur Capper started a Championship Sweepstakes which was to become a tradition for many years. The loving cup or trophy was to be given for the champion ten ears of white or yellow corn. They would keep the trophy for one year and then return it to the fair to be offered again the next year. Should any one exhibitor win the trophy three years, it would become his property.
By 1931 the fair had grown to a size where it needed officers, superintendents, directors, and others to carry on the work of the fair. It was voted to incorporate, and in March of that year, the fair was granted a charter from the state of Kansas. From that day on, the fair has been known as the Richmond Free Fair.
The first time that separate departments were made for the 4-H departments was in 1929. The first three-day fair was held in 1948, and the first parade was held in 1929.
The Silver Anniversary of the fair was held in August of 1949. One of the big events that year was the coronation of the Silver Anniversary Queen.
The 45th Annual Richmond Free Fair was held in conjunction with the city of Richmond Centennial. It was a great success.
In 1990 John H. Roeckers was inducted into the Kansas Fair Association Hall of Fame after working with the fair 56 years and serving as secretary 53 of those years.
The Richmond Free Fair has been a success during the past 66 years because of the efforts of the fair members, the exhibitors, and the general public. The fair now lasts three days.