History of the Greater Baton Rouge State Fair

The Greater Baton Rouge State Fair has a history of bringing out the inner child in people around the Capital Area.
Published: Oct. 27, 2022 at 3:00 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 27, 2022 at 6:23 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Greater Baton Rouge State Fair has a history of bringing out the inner child in people around the Capital Area.

“You know when you get out here and you see the happy people, that’s the main thing. Then you start smelling the smells from the food booths and you hear the laughing people midway and the entertainment and the whole thing just makes you feel like a kid again. It’s just a lot of fun,” the president of the fair, Cliff Barton, said.

Barton has been involved with the fair since 1973 when it was still a fundraiser for the junior chamber, known as Jaycees.

“It started as a trade show and then midway was added and turned into a fair. It was designed to raise money to fund the projects that the Jaycees put on that were non-revenue projects,” Barton said.

The first Greater Baton Rouge State Fair was held in 1965 at the Bon Marche parking lot.

From there it moved to the old downtown airport, now Independence Park.

Then the site of Cortana Mall.

In 1972 the fairgrounds on Airline Highway were bought and the fair was held there from 1973 until last year.

“Oh, we’re very excited about it. It is certainly something new to us being in Gonzalas, but it’s going to be wonderful. I think for young people and for all ages really, truly to go to the State Fair,” Gonzales mayor Barney Arceneaux said.

This year is the first time the fair will be held in Ascension Parish at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center.

“They told me because of construction issues (at the old fairgrounds), we would not be able to host an event for two years and because our funds are donated to the community through our foundation, the Baton Rouge State Fair Foundation. We couldn’t go that long without having an event, so we wound up here at Lamar Dixon,” Barton said.

Officials are excited the fair can continue this year.

“Here in Gonzalas, I think it’s going to be very good economically speaking. Our hotels, restaurants, and stores. I think it’s going to do very well so you know we’re very happy about it,” Arceneaux said.

Arceneaux added having the fair in their backyard for the next couple of years will be a great thing for the parish.

“Just because I think it’s going to be a wonderful thing for our area. It’s a State Fair so we know people are coming from everywhere. But when I say our area how, how good is it just to have the State Fair in your backyard, and so if you’re a parent, if your child regardless, you know who it may be. This is the place to go,” Arceneaux added.

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