In 1961, the Huntsville Jaycee President, John Wiggins announced his goal of establishing a Fair ran by the Huntsville Jaycees. He had been studying the then existing “Madison County Fair” operations and was convinced that a Fair could be a successful venture for the Huntsville Jaycees.
After a lot of planning by a dedicated group of Jaycees, the date of the Jaycee County Fair was set for Labor Day 1962. David (Dea) Thomas was appointed the first Fair Chairman in February 1962. A note was then signed by twelve (12) Huntsville Jaycees for $1,012.00 to provide the operating capital to hold the first Jaycee County Fair.
Prior to the start of the Jaycee County Fair, there was the Madison County Fair. It was a small Fair that had been held for 30 years by a private individual. It’s location was on University Drive near Memorial Parkway where the Red Lobster currently operates. The new Jaycee County Fair replaced the Madison County Fair.
In July 1962, the Jaycees fenced in 14 acres surrounding the Madison County Coliseum. This would be the site for the new Jaycee County Fair. The first Fair was held in September 1962 with only a few rides and games. There were no buildings on the Fairgrounds other than the coliseum shell so tents were used. The Fair was a success and a small profit was made to pay off the $1,012.00 note at the bank. For the next several years the Jaycee County Fair continued to grow in attendance and size. A sewer system was added along with many permanent buildings on the Fairgrounds. Additional property was purchased by the Jaycees to accommodate the growth of the Fair. The Jaycees also secured Johnny’s United Shows as their midway provider.
In 1968, the Huntsville Jaycees added their dunking booth to the Fair’s midway lineup. It was designed by Bob Orand. Dorman Schrimsher was the first Huntsville Jaycee to ride the dunking booth. The dunking booth was very popular and it was a money maker for the Jaycees. Many local politicians and prominent Huntsvillians rode the dunking booth for the Jaycees to help with their fundraising efforts.
Over the next 20 years the Jaycee County Fair grew into a five county regional Fair and the name was changed to the Northeast Alabama State Fair. In the late 1980’s the Jaycees sold their property near the Madison County Coliseum and the Fairgrounds were moved to the Old Huntsville Airport. The Jaycees built several permanent structures on the Fairgrounds including the Huntsville Jaycee Community Building. The Jaycee Building was used for commercial and individual exhibits and tents were used for outside exhibits. The Jaycees added big name entertainment to lineup like George Jones, Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette. United Shows of America was the Midway provider for the Fair late into the 1990’s.
Currently, the Northeast Alabama State Fair has the largest Midway in North Alabama with the most rides, games, shows and attractions. For the last 16 years the Fair has been fortunate enough to have Kissel Entertainment providing its midway attractions. The Kissel family continues to provide us with a safe, clean, family environment that you are sure to enjoy.
As you can see, the Northeast Alabama State Fair has a rich history that the Huntsville Jaycees are proud of. The money raised from our Fair goes back into the Huntsville community through the charitable projects the Huntsville Jaycees run. During our 50 year history the Huntsville Jaycees have raised funds or donated to most every major charity on the Huntsville area. We continue to provide scholarship assistance to deserving students and we are always looking for ways to meet the needs of groups in our community that need our help.