From its early origins as a livestock show in 1902, the Eastern Idaho State Fair has become a favorite annual destination for families young and old, creating fond memories and unforgettable experiences.
For more than a century, the Fair has upheld its mission to provide wholesome, affordable, family-oriented entertainment and education in an agricultural environment within clean and safe surroundings.
Agriculture has always been the backbone of the Eastern Idaho State Fair. Over the course of nine days, the Fair is home to more than 2,000 animals including beef cattle, draft horses, sheep, pigs, goats, rabbits, poultry, and pigeons. The Fair receives more than 6,000 entries from Idahoans young and old entering their hobbies and livestock in 26 competition categories. This includes Livestock, Flowers, Baking, Canning, Needlecraft, Antiques, Fine Arts, Hobbies & Craft, Photography, Native American, FFA, and 4-H.
Nearly 70 food vendors feed hungry visitors with favorites such as corn dogs, giant turkey legs, funnel cakes, and tiger ears. More than 200 vendors showcase their services throughout the grounds. For the last several years, attendance has reached an all-time record of nearly 250,000 visitors.
The Fair traces its history back to 1902 when a group of cattlemen wanted to hold a livestock show in Blackfoot. They got together to purchase some land, and the show was held. The Pocatello Tribune came to the show and reported on October 9, 1902: “This is a great day in the history of Blackfoot. There were cattle to look at as well as floral and agricultural exhibits.”
For the next 16 years, the Southeastern Idaho Fair ran continuously, where the first merry-go-round powered by a steam engine arrived in 1906, followed by the Fair Board of Directors spending $900 in 1912 to have Teddy Roosevelt arrive by train to make a campaign speech. In 1918, financial hardship forced the Fair to shut down for several years.
Fortunately, county leaders and the Farm Bureau saw the value of the fair and purchased the land, reopening the Fair in 1920. Five years later, the Fair became a four-day event. Also that year, the Idaho Legislature passed Multi-County Fair District laws. Three counties in southeast Idaho – Bingham, Bonneville, and Bannock – created the Eastern Idaho Fair District. In 1930, a fourth county – Clark – became part of the Fair district. With 16 counties today, Eastern Idaho State Fair is the only multi-county district fair in the State of Idaho!