Clay County Fairgrounds

2497 State Road 16 West
Green Cove Springs FL 32043
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Opening Hours

  • Mon: 9am-4pm
  • Tue: 9am-4pm
  • Wed: 9am-4pm
  • Thu: 9am-4pm
  • Fri: 9am-4pm

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In the early 1970s, a number of community leaders got together with Jesse Godbold, Clay County Agricultural Agent, and determined that the county's agricultural identity and heritage were worthy of being showcased for the citizens of Clay County, especially its youth. Some of the those original forward thinkers who dreamed up Clay County Agricultural Fair included people like Claude Kelly [ now identified as its father ], the late Sam Saunders, Merrill Glisson, Lanny Lancaster and Tommy Thomas. They, along with a host of others including Sarah Boe, Jennings Murrhee, Jessie Godbold, Dr. William S. Bazley and Marcia Barber, helped generate the idea to put on the first fair ' a fair that would continue to keep agriculture in its name and as its theme. They all shared the dream that it was important that Clay County's rich agriculture heritage was worth showcasing forever for future generations to enjoy. An annual county fair was the way to go, they said, but stipulated that agriculture remain the focal point of this event. Their dream began to take shape in 1972 when 28 acres of land for Clay County Agriculture Center was purchased by Clay County through a sizable donation by the Paul E. Reinhold family. The improvements were started by the county in 1973 with the construction of an arena, concession stand and restrooms. In 1976, through the work of Clay County Agricultural Extension Director County Agent Jesse Godbold, a grant was received from the federal government for construction of the Agricultural Extension Office complex. A group of interested citizens got together, along with many community leaders and formed Clay County Fair Association in the late 70s. They named Sam Saunders as president. The first big events held on what today is known as the Paul E. Reinhold Fairgrounds were the 1980 Cattlemen's Rodeo and Cracker Days. This event was coordinated until the first fair [ 1987 ] by the county extension staff, which provided 4-H project exhibits and opportunities including youth livestock ( steer, rabbits and poultry ). Early superintendents of Cracker Day were the late Duke Webb ( livestock ); Wendell Hall ( poultry ) and the late Harry Null ( rabbits ). It is interesting to note that Wendell Hall and the Null family continue to chair these events each year. Rodeo facilities were constructed by the Clay County Cattleman's Association. That same year, the Reinhold Corporation donated another 30 acres of land to the county for use for the fair. Clay County Fair Association was formally organized and a Charter granted by the state in 1982. The original Charter Members included: Donna Burnette, Lee McCabe, Richard E. Neville, Wanda Louque, Nita Goodson, Bob Barwick, William A. Wilkes, Joseph H. Walduck, Ted W. Hellmuth, John Bowles, Joan Shearin, Pat Kelly, Jeri Hurtt, Richard W. Post, Sam D. Saunders, Claude Kelly, John Keene, Jean Delp, Jesse Godbold, T. Hank Bruning, Betty Hauk, Marcia Barber, James C. Wilkinson, Eugene F. Shaw and Merrill Glisson. Claude Kelly became chairman and began the drive for big bucks through the Patron Life Members and an auction. The auction was a lot of fun, but the push for memberships much harder. Virgil Fox entered the picture, assisted by Sarah Boe, Dr. William S. Bazley, and Jennings Murrhee, to continue the fund raising efforts. It took three and a half years to get Fair Association its non-profit and tax exempt status. Patron Life Members, along with Clay County Commission, School Board and Corporate Sponsors formed a partnership with Clay County Fair Association and with their generous support Clay County Agricultural Fair continued to grow and became a bigger and better fair with every passing year. In the beginning, following the purchase of the original 28 acres of land in 1972, Clay County Commission was a major factor in the establishment and success of the fair by providing assistance in getting the buildings and infrastructure in place. In addition to the county su