The first Essex County-Clinton County Fair
was organized by Elkanah Watson in 1848. It was held on
the Port Kent Road, on the plains east of the Town of Keeseville.
The most important event was horse racing, which is still
a component of the fair. In 1850, Essex and Clinton Counties
separated and the Essex County Fair moved to Elizabethtown
where it was held annually until 1865. In 1865, the fair
committee decided to move the fair to Westport where it
would be closer to the lake. They hoped that the accessibility
of lake transportation would boost attendance.
For fifteen years land was rented south
of town for $150. However, during the period 1885-1889,
various parcels were purchased by the Essex County Agricultural
Society for $1,500 to form the present grounds. An additional
$1,700 was spent to erect the track and buildings. Many
buildings have been added to the fairgrounds since then.
The Grand Stand and the Agricultural Center were built just
after the turn of the century. The many 4-H barns were constructed
by volunteers over the years since 4-H began in 1941. In
1985 the historic structures on the fairground were inventoried
for the New York State Parks and Recreation Division for
Historic Preservation. In 2004 Floral Hall was completely
renovated keeping its historic look.