Come to the Summer Fair

A 4-H Club Display at the Henry County Fair, Napoleon, Ohio

This Hub's Photos

All the photographs used in this Hub are from the personal copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg. They were taken by Helberg over several years at the Henry County Fair, Napoleon, Ohio.

The 4-H Pledge

The 4-H Club equals Head, Heart, Hands, and Health -- 4 H's.

All 4-H Club youth hold themselves to the standard of the 4-H Club Pledge:

I pledge --

My Head to clearer thinking,
My Heart to greater loyalty,
My Hands to larger service, and
My Health to better living -- for my club, my community, and my country.

Backbone of the County Fair

In Ohio, the concept of the 4-H Club was conceived by a school superintendent, A. B. Graham, who organized a club for boys and girls in the field of agriculture. This occurred in Springfield Township in 1902.

Agriculture was the wealth of the land in early America. Families grew crops to feed their own and to sell at market to earn "seed" money for the following growing season. This circle of life was at the very center of the first agricultural clubs.

In 1900 Illinois, W. B. Otwell promoted interest in agriculture among youth by distributing packages of seed corn to 500 boys residing in Macoupin County. Corn grown by this group of boys was later exhibited as a project at a farmers' institute.

Also in 1902, O. J. Kern of Illinois organized farm boys into an agricultural group in Winnebago County.

Similar agricultural clubs were organized in Iowa in 1904 and 1905, bringing the entire three-state region into the earliest establishments of what later would become 4-H clubs.

Since the National 4-H Service Committee was founded in 1921, 4-Hers have been the backbone of county fairs in America. These youth work for weeks and months on the projects and with the animals which they ultimately display on the fairgrounds, and they represent the important foundation of agriculture.

160 Years of Fair

The current version of the Henry County Fair, which celebrated 160 years in Napoleon, Ohio, in 2013 (August 9-15), features free grandstand shows and access to all displays and animal barns for an individual entrance fee of $7.00, a grand price for the activities available. Children under 12 are admitted free.

Registration is required for some events, and of course, rides like the Ferris Wheel and the Carousel come at a price, but the overall motivation for the fair is family fun and the demonstration of the skills of the area's youth in 4-H Club projects of photography, art, sewing, animal husbandry, and many more, which are judged and awarded.

Henry County, Napoleon, Ohio, Fairgrounds

A markerHenry County Fairgrounds -
821 South Perry Street, Napoleon, OH 43545, USA
[get directions]

The Henry County Fair celebrated 160 years in 2013.

Cows and other animals are always a popular wonder for the little ones, the next 4-Hers on the horizon. A learned club member displays his animal to a future 4-H prospect.
Cows and other animals are always a popular wonder for the little ones, the next 4-Hers on the horizon. A learned club member displays his animal to a future 4-H prospect.

Some Fair History From Around the World

No modern fair is complete without a Ferris Wheel and a Carousel, even though their ride appeal in the modern era may have been eclipsed by the faster rise, fall, and twirl of the "thrill" rides.

But, long before the invention of rides and thrills, fair-goers gathered to view the area's farm produce and livestock, and to judge their worth. Farmers, family, and fairs are still synonymous today. Agricultural groups and farmers' clubs, and today's youth -- the 4-Hers by the millions -- make local fairs a yearly family attraction.

In 1810, the Berkshire Agricultural Society of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, held the first authentic agricultural fair in America. By 1819, the state of New York legislature appropriated funds to help establish county fairs, and the 4-H Club movement began in the early 1900s in Illinois and in Ohio.

Fairs in ancient Middle Ages' history were held as farmers' markets, and merchants soon joined the gatherings to display their wares, as well, to keep traveling at a minimum. Residents of the area gathered at the market displays.

People by nature have used dance and the enjoyment of food at gathering places. Thus, the first European Medieval "fairs" were born, with produce and products from other countries becoming the trend. It was easier for merchants and farmers, alike, to have people interested in buying come to one location. For this reason, the first fairs usually coincided with a church festival, making the event one for the whole family, and one for which a large number of people were ready attendees.

Livestock were soon traded and displayed at the fairs, and entertainment value was added, as merriment and the celebration of plenty became part of the gatherings. Jugglers and tumblers joined the celebrations of product, produce, food, and dance.

The modern fair, although more sophisticated than its ancient forebears, is rooted in the same motivations of productive display and family gathering and fun.

This is a photograph of a picture taken at the 1937 Henry County Fair. It depicts Art Cordes, a mover and shaker who helped establish the Henry County Draft Horse Association, with a prized stud.
This is a photograph of a picture taken at the 1937 Henry County Fair. It depicts Art Cordes, a mover and shaker who helped establish the Henry County Draft Horse Association, with a prized stud.
In 1959, the Henry County Fair began featuring the Tomato Festival (and Parade) Queen. This is a photograph of the 1961 festival announcement and crowned Queen, Esther Gerken, as well as all contestants, in a county newspaper.
In 1959, the Henry County Fair began featuring the Tomato Festival (and Parade) Queen. This is a photograph of the 1961 festival announcement and crowned Queen, Esther Gerken, as well as all contestants, in a county newspaper.
An ancient fire truck from McClure, Ohio, takes part in the Tomato Festival Parade and Pageant in downtown Napoleon on its way to the fairgrounds for the 159th Henry County Fair, 2012.
An ancient fire truck from McClure, Ohio, takes part in the Tomato Festival Parade and Pageant in downtown Napoleon on its way to the fairgrounds for the 159th Henry County Fair, 2012.
Harness racing is one of the oldest and most popular events at the annual Henry County Fair in Napoleon, Ohio. Its two-day sanctioned racing brings in Standardbreds from several states each year.
Harness racing is one of the oldest and most popular events at the annual Henry County Fair in Napoleon, Ohio. Its two-day sanctioned racing brings in Standardbreds from several states each year.
The Henry County Fair in Ohio is a popular event in the summertime for senior citizens. This couple enjoys homemade raspberry ice cream as they sit a spell.
The Henry County Fair in Ohio is a popular event in the summertime for senior citizens. This couple enjoys homemade raspberry ice cream as they sit a spell.

The Queen and Her Court

The 54th Annual Tomato Festival Parade and Pageant in Henry County, Ohio, held Sunday evening at the 160th Henry County Fair, Napoleon, on August 11, 2013, featured Morgan Parcher, who was crowned Queen of the event as the representative from Harrison Township.

In Morgan's court were second runner-up Madison Merz, Miss Napoleon City; third runner-up Rachel Wiemken, Miss Ridgeville Township; and first runner-up, Leah Thomas, Miss Pleasant Township.

Heather Wells, 2013's Miss Ohio, attended the pageant as a guest of honor.

What Is Your Summer Fun?

Do You Attend A Local or State Fair in Your Area?

  • Yes, I love the fair!
  • No, too many other things to do.
See results without voting
At summer fairs there are truck pulls, tractor pulls, and horse pulls, among others! Here, a pair of draft horses takes a crack at pulling the bargain weight of 3,000 pounds. Pulls at 5,000 pounds, or more, usually win such an event.
At summer fairs there are truck pulls, tractor pulls, and horse pulls, among others! Here, a pair of draft horses takes a crack at pulling the bargain weight of 3,000 pounds. Pulls at 5,000 pounds, or more, usually win such an event.
Getting in line for some of those delicious Elephant Ears at Ohio's Henry County Fair.
Getting in line for some of those delicious Elephant Ears at Ohio's Henry County Fair.

Quick Fair Facts

The farmer has always been the honored guest at state and county fairs in America.

Though most fairs have sprouted further into the entertainment arena, agricultural improvement and showcasing has always been at the heart of a fair.


Emm-Em...Cheese On A Stick at the local summer fair!
Emm-Em...Cheese On A Stick at the local summer fair!

Quick 4-H Club Facts

The United States supports 4-H Clubs in the nation through scholarships and awards on all levels; local, state, and national.

The United States Department of Agriculture is supplemented by national organizations in its 4-H work.

It's the last day of the week-long 2013 Henry County Fair, and this great beast waits its turn in line to enter the Demolition Derby competition.
It's the last day of the week-long 2013 Henry County Fair, and this great beast waits its turn in line to enter the Demolition Derby competition.
The biggest crowd of the week gathers in the evening of the last day of the Henry County Fair for the teeth-rattling, dust-cloud event, the Demolition Derby.
The biggest crowd of the week gathers in the evening of the last day of the Henry County Fair for the teeth-rattling, dust-cloud event, the Demolition Derby.
In front of a full crowd of cheering parents, this little contestant in the Kids Pedal Tractor Pull came to a halt and ran off (right) with her blue ribbon for a job well done.
In front of a full crowd of cheering parents, this little contestant in the Kids Pedal Tractor Pull came to a halt and ran off (right) with her blue ribbon for a job well done.
Kids Pedal Tractor Pull, Henry County Fair, Napoleon, Ohio, 2013.
Kids Pedal Tractor Pull, Henry County Fair, Napoleon, Ohio, 2013.

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Comments 4 comments

MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean

Voted Up and Interesting! The entire presentation is good. Thanks for the pictures.


Barbsbitsnpieces profile image

Barbsbitsnpieces 3 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA Author

@MsDora...Thanks so much for your loyalty and vote! Happy you enjoyed this Hub!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

I love state fairs. Ours is in one more week and I'll be there just as I have been every year for the past fifty-five years. Love all the exhibits and animals and smells and people-watching. One day I would love to go to one in the midwest just to see the differences and commonalities.

Great pics; thanks for sharing with us.


Barbsbitsnpieces profile image

Barbsbitsnpieces 3 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA Author

@billybuc...Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your own fair thoughts!

I'm with you...been to the Henry County Fair for a zillion years!

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