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Who We Are

The Windham County Agricultural Society is an organization with a rich agricultural history. The Society sponsors and operates the Brooklyn Fair. It also owns and maintains the fairgrounds, its buildings, and facilities. Proceeds raised from the Fair are used for improvements to our facility and to fund our college scholarship program.

History of the Windham County Agricultural Society

In 1809 a group of friends, neighbors, and relatives got together during the harvest to enjoy the fruits of their labor and perhaps share techniques of farming and domestic living. They organized as the "Pomfret United Agricultural Society" and sponsored a fair (held on the site of what is currently known as the "Vanilla Bean Cafe") as a way to socialize and exchange ideas with other county residents.

The event was a success and they decided to make it an annual affair. Since the area's roads and transportation conditions of the day were less than ideal, the event was held on a rotating basis in the towns of Brooklyn, Pomfret, and Woodstock to ease the burden of travel.

Nearly eleven years after the first gathering, in the spring of 1820, the group (now numbering over 100) was incorporated as the Windham County Agricultural Society.

In the years that followed, the Society continued to sponsor its annual "traveling road show". Then in 1849, the Society acquired a tract of land at the intersection of, what is now, Route 169 and Fairgrounds Road in Brooklyn. Once settled in Brooklyn, the event was called "The Windham County Fair, at Brooklyn, Conn." Later the name was shortened to simply the "Brooklyn Fair"

Since those humble beginnings, the Society and the Fair have continued in the tradition of our forebears. Even during the great world conflicts of the 20th century, when many organizations suspended their activities, the Brooklyn Fair continued to be held (though it was a smaller-scale event).
In recent years, the Society has labored to expand its activities. A college scholarship program has been added, and the Fair itself has been improved and enlarged. As recently as the 1970's, the entire Fair was still contained within an area bordered by Rte 169 and the east side of the former racetrack.

Most livestock events centered near the present-day main stage and grandstand. Since the early 1980s, the Society has constructed a new Better Living Building, Cow Barn (complete with milking parlor), a new livestock barn, livestock rings, and a maintenance center. In addition, ongoing improvements are regularly made to our electrical and water systems. While making these improvements, the Society has not lost sight of its original charter of sponsoring a Fair that emphasizes agriculture and domestic manufacture.

Our Fair has enjoyed the distinction for many years, of possessing the only operating harness racetrack in the State of Connecticut. In 2000, the Society was recognized for its efforts by the Library of Congress in its "Bicentennial Local Legacies Project" as part of its 200th Anniversary celebration. As for entertainment, our stage has been graced over the years by such quality performers as The Wilkinsons, Ty Herndon, Barbara Mandrel, Jeannie C. Riley ("Harper Valley PTA") and Lady Antebellum.

The present-day Fair is a yearly mecca for people from around the country to visit, enjoy, and embrace. The four days in August have become one of the staples of the coming Autumn in Connecticut's "Quiet Corner." Such success would not be possible without the efforts of countless members through the years. All of our members work on a strictly volunteer basis to organize the annual event. The majority of our members are employed elsewhere and donate their spare time to the organization.

Windham County Agricultural Society entrance sign from the Henry McEwen Collection-Glass Plate Negatives – Killingly Historical & Genealogical Society, Inc. Library
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