Grow It and Show It

The Ramsey County Fair has its roots in White Bear Lake.

The Ramsey County Fair began with high expectations in August 1913 on the present site of Central Middle School. For a $2 membership, attendees received a pass, which allowed entering and leaving the fairgrounds throughout the four-day event.

In those early decades, the event, organized by the Ramsey County Agricultural Association, had a strong emphasis on the agricultural roots of county, then heavily rural. Residents were encouraged to enter livestock and crop samples to showcase the best and largest products of our area. The event was a source of local pride, as well as an opportunity to learn from one another and share techniques and innovations to improve production and quality.

Several permanent buildings were constructed for livestock, other displays and storage during the event. In 1926, the Hippodrome arena was built as the main exhibition hall for the fair, showcasing the products in a grand fashion. The ice-skating amenities were soon added to make the building a year-round asset to the community.

As the demographics of Ramsey County evolved from its rural beginnings to suburban settlements, the focus of the fair shifted. Creative activities such as quilting began to take their place at the annual event. Amusements and family entertainment added a new flavor as well. From the beginning, showmanship in the form of horse racing and other contests were popular attractions.

In 1953, White Bear schools acquired the land that had been home to the Ramsey County Fair for its first 40 years. The community was changing, and additional space was needed for the high school. The fair moved to its current site, located on White Bear Avenue in Maplewood, the following year. Today, the emphasis is less on agriculture and more on entertainment, but the small-town feel of more than a century ago remains.