The history of the Massachusetts Agricultural Fairs Association is part of the history of fairs in America. Massachusetts and the nation have come a long way in the number and development of fairs since Elkanah Watson exhibited his two Marino sheep on the public square in Pittsfield in 1807. The Massachusetts born Watson is without question “the father of American Fairs” as we know them today. The Berkshire Agricultural Society was incorporated on February 25, 1811 and the first Fair help in this country was in Pittsfield in 1814. Three agricultural societies were incorporated in Massachusetts in 1818 included Essex Agricultural Society at Topsfield; Hampshire, Franklin, & Hampden at Northampton; and Worcester Agricultural at Worcester. The Topsfield Fair and the Northampton Fair (3 County) are still operating as Agricultural Societies and sponsors annual Fairs.
The Massachusetts Agricultural Fairs Association was born April 29, 1920 in Worcester. The organization was called to order by Leslie R. Smith, Director of Reclamation, Soil Survey and Fairs of the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture. A constitution and By-laws were adopted with the object of this Association being to advance, encourage and protect the interests of Agricultural Fairs of the Commonwealth and to encourage agriculture, industry and recreation as it relates to Agricultural Fairs.
The following Agricultural Societies were admitted as “Charter Members”: Acton, Barnstable, Blackstone Valley, Deerfield Valley, Eastern States Exposition, Eastern Massachusetts Poultry, Pigeon and Pet Stock Association, Franklin County, Groton Farmers’ and Mechanics’ Club, Hampshire, Franklin, & Hampden, Hillside, Highland, Hoosac Valley, Housatonic, Lenox Horticultural, Middlesex North, Norfolk County, Oxford, Union, Ware, Weymouth, Worcester South, Worcester County West and Worcester.
The first president elected was W.D. Ross of the Worcester Agricultural Society and the first Secretary elected was A.F. MacDougall of Northampton Fair. A.W. Lombard, former Director of Fairs at the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural, was given much of the credit for forming the new Association.
At every annual meeting the agenda has always included subjects which relate to the operation of a successful Fair such as agricultural and home economics exhibits, youth participation, suggested premium lists, health and sanitation, midway operations, commercial exhibits, and many other problems, educational exhibits, as well as classification of Fairs and legislation.