Fair History

Since 1847...

The first Houlton fair was held in 1847, as evidenced by Theo Cary’s fair pass seen here. Like many fairs, Houlton Fair has gone through many highs and lows and its continued existence is a tribute to the hundreds of volunteers who have worked hard to revive it and keep it alive. 

In 1858 The Maine Press Association invited all its member editors to come to Aroostook and see this wonderful County for themselves. They visited the Houlton and Presque Isle Fairs and went home and wrote glowing reports of this new “Garden of Maine”. These reports caused an influx of “Kennebecers” to head north to Aroostook.

Horse tracks of houlton

Fairs were primarily shows of home foods, crafts and other goods, agricultural products, sporting events, and harness racing. Harness racing was paramount in early fairs.

First Horse Track

The first evidence of a horse racing track in Houlton shows up on the Houlton Village map of Roe and Colby's "Atlas of Aroostook". This park was located south of Park St and East of Fair St, thus giving these streets their names to this day.

Maple Grove

Houlton's second park was on Putnam land located west of North Street and roughly bounded by Maple St, Bowdoin St and Putnam Ave of today. This park is referred to as "Maple Grove" on Theo Cary's pass. It was also known as North Park. Many great photos exist of this park showing baseball and football games being played in the interior of the racetrack.

Racetrack & Fairgrounds

Houlton's third racetrack and fairgrounds was built on land formerly owned by the Burleigh Family and purchased by a group of of prominent local citizens who organized themselves as the Houlton Agricultural Society. This group invested $50,000 to build what was one of the premier fairgrounds in Maine.

"Houlton's Great Fair"

Excerpt from Aroostook Times, Sept 2, 1914

“Houlton’s third annual Fair, which closed Thursday under the most flattering conditions was a grand success in every way. For weeks and months the several committees under the direction of SEC’y F. N. Vose have been laboring and planning to make this year’s celebration a record breaker and that success was evident by the pleased expression on everybody’s face, and the high words of praise heard on every hand.”

Houlton Agricultural Fair

With the arrival of the great depression times grew tough and the society deeded over its fairground to the Town of Houlton which continues to own the land, now known as Community Park.

Various carnivals and horse racing continued intermittently on the site until the early ’80s when a committee was formed. By the late ’80s the group incorporated as the “Houlton Agricultural Fair” and was granted “State Fair” recognition by the Maine Department of Agriculture.

Houlton Fair continues to this day to be a part of the community, bringing people together for various events and festivities.

History and photographs provided by Leigh Cummings and Henry Gartley

Please follow the links below to learn more about the history of Houlton Maine and Aroostook County: