Fairgrounds Serves County Nearly a Century

Sheridan County Fairgrounds -- Photo by Pat Blair
Sheridan County Fairgrounds -- Photo by Pat Blair

Sheridan Media continues its look at the sites in Sheridan County that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today's focus is the Sheridan County Fairgrounds. Today's county fairgrounds is host to a number of activities, including the annual Sheridan-WYO Rodeo, county rodeo and, of course, the yearly county fair. But the Sheridan County Fair Association, organized in 1905, bought the 40-acre site in May of 1906, initially for racing horses.

A history of the land shows it was homesteaded in April, 1895, by James M. Becker. He later sold the land to Sheridan founder and first mayor J.D. Loucks. A later owner sold the land to the fair association, whose ownership ended after running into problems in September 1918 and the land was sold to the county through a sheriff's sale.

A year later, in 1919, the county leased the land to H.J. Moore and H.J. Tobias. The two men from Los Angeles paid $1,000 a year to use the land for horse racing, while the county use the fairgrounds for fairs. But no horse races were allowed for 30 days before or 30 days after the event.

The two oldest structures on the fairgrounds, which still stand today are the Exhibit Hall and stone barn, both built in 1923. The stone Pavilion between the two came later, completed in 1943, as a Works Progress Administration project. All three structures are still in use today.

Other structures have been added through the years. A sheep barn, more stalls, a metal county shop for road equipment, and a home for the fairgrounds manager were added in the 1970s and '80s. The manager's residence now houses the fairgrounds offices.

An old honey house originally served as home for the facilities' caretaker, and a bunkhouse served as home for unmarried county employees. The bunkhouse later became a soils laboratory. The newer features on the fairgrounds are the arena and grandstands, built in the early 1990s. The grandstands replaced an old wooden structure that had been condemned.

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