Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Blue Grass Fair & Horse Show

Photo from the Armstrong Archives

The Blue Grass Fair and Horse Show, located at the city limits on Cornishville Street, opened in 1947 and closed in 1951.  Owned by local horseman and business owner Glave Sims, the property, as seen in the above photograph, had a 5,000 seat grandstand, a quarter mile track, two barns that would stable 225 horses when full, surrounding acreage, and an 11 room house for family.  The first show in June 1947 was a four-day extravaganza featuring a parade, a concert by the Lawrenceburg High School Band prior to the horse show, 10 classes announced by George Swineboard of Lexington, who would become a successful blood stock auctioneer.  There was a carnival with 66 “clean and entertaining concessions.”  Glave Sims won the blue ribbon competing at his own show in the roadster class.  The bottom photograph shows the entry gate to the property.

Photo from the Armstrong Archives

In addition to the yearly horse shows, which were in June so as not to compete with the Mercer County Fair and Horse Show in July, the Blue Grass Fair Grounds hosted many other events.  There were one-day plug horse derbies and mule races.  The Blue Grass Auto Racing Association that was organized in Harrodsburg used the track to host interstate championship midget auto races featuring “big name drivers from surrounding states.”  The Cross Roads Jamboree, a 2-hour radio show, was broadcast there in 1947.  In addition to horse activities, there were foxhound, coonhound and bird dog shows. 

Photo from the Armstrong Archives

The above photograph is of Anna Armstrong and her mother Kathleen on the carousel in 1949.
Photo from the Armstrong Archives

From the Harrodsburg Herald, 1949, came this report by Jack Bailey on the road horse class at the Mercer Fair and Horse Show:  “I recall playing the organ, probably ‘Roll Out the Barrel,’ in the center bandstand of the old bullring, with Jim “Buck” Ison shouting over the loud speaker, ‘let your horses rack on!’  And Glave Sims, I.C. James, Edwin Freeman, and Marshal Freeman all yelling ‘ye-ow,’ dust flying and horses in a white later.  My, what a time that was.  Those boys gave us something to remember for always."  The competition among these horsemen was always fierce, often resulting in crashes in the ring.  But their friendship was sold, and there was nothing any of them loved more than to be together in the ring for the Saturday night grand champion ship class.  Glave Sims not only drove road horses, but also bred and trained them at his Blue Grass Farms, which was part of the fairground property.  

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