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The Dixie Classic Fair can trace its roots to 1882, when Rosa Mickey Fries organized the Wheat Fair in Browns Tobacco Warehouse on North Main Street to showcase grains grown in Forsyth County. In the 1890s Richard J. Reynolds suggested that tobacco be included and the fair became known as the Tobacco Fair. Despite the name change, a wide variety of agricultural products, cattle, and flour were showcased in addition to elaborate displays by the tobacco companies.
By 1899 the Piedmont Park Company, bankrolled by several prominent citizens, purchased land off North Liberty Street near present-day 30th Street to relocate and expand the fair. They persuaded the streetcar company to extend its line to the new fairgrounds so everyone could attend… with discount ride tickets during fair week. The fair was held at Piedmont Park from 1908 until 1950. In addition to the traditional displays, the relocated fair offered harness racing, motorcycles, even foot races for cash prizes and blue ribbons.
In 1951 the fair moved to its present location. Its new grandstand (still in use today) saw horse races, top-name entertainers and for many years, the Joie Chitwood Daredevil Drivers Thrill Show. There’s always been food, both for eating and for judging, livestock, and the midway.
The fair has been operated by the city of Winston Salem since 1969 and even though many things have changed since 1882, everyone still has a good time at the fair!
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