For nearly two hundred years there has been a Cayuga County Fair which has been held at several different locations across the county. Down through the years there were a few times when no fair was held at all. The fair in Cayuga County dates back to the early 1800’s when it was held on a cow pasture in what is now known as Memorial City Hall and Pomeroy Park and the YMCA in downtown Auburn. After the Civil War the county fair found a new home in Moravia, NY at approximately where the trotting track exists. According to historians the exact years that the county fair was held in Moravia is unknown but it is known that it was held there in 1884 and was billed as the 44th annual fair.
From Moravia the Cayuga County Fair had many homes and there were a number of fairs held in the county but they weren’t the county fair as they weren’t officially sanctioned by the state’s Ag and Markets Department. Many of the “fairs” were informal and each year a different farmer in the county held a picnic on their property in different parts of the county. In 1928 a picnic was held on the farm of Fred H Sexauer, then president of the Dairymen’s League Association and in 1930 a picnic was held at a farm in Port Byron. In 1931 is recorded that an event which was billed as the Cayuga County Fair was held at Enna Jettick Park on the northern shore of Owasco Lake which is known today as the Emerson Park. The event later became known as the Big Five and Big Six Picnics.
The Big 5 Picnic was made possible by the sponsorships of the Pomona Grange, Dairymen’s League, Home Bureau, Farm Bureau and 4-H Clubs. In the mid 1940’s the Big Six took the place of the Big 5 and the sponsors of that event were Dairyman’s League, Pomona Grange, Ag and Home and 4-H Clubs of CCE, Vocational Ag Teachers Association, and Eastern Milk Producers. By the mid 1950’s the Big 6 Picnic had grown so that it occupied both sides of the road at the Emerson Park in the vicinity of the present day Agricultural Museum. During the late 1960’s and early 1970’s the attendance had fallen in number and that combined with the newer highway and increased amount of travel the fair was moved to the Farm, Home and 4-H Center in 1972. According to officials the move was made in an attempt to decrease the rising costs of the fair which included tent rental, additional insurance cost and general costs of running the fair.
In 1981 the County Fair again had a new home which was the Weedsport Speedway. Weedsport seemed to be the logical place because of the racetrack; the parking, the grounds, and the infrastructure were all there. From all accounts the main focal point of the Cayuga County Fair has always been about showcasing the Agricultural aspect-the counties largest industry-and the youth of the county.