Florida Federation of Fairs History
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Federation History

1950 - 1952

In December of 1950, at the urging of J.C. Huskisson, Assistant Manager of the Florida State Fair, Tampa and John Henry Logan, Manager of the Pinellas County Fair, then in Largo, a letter was circulated to all county fairs in Florida.

The letter was authored by Lloyd Rhoden, Secretary Treasurer and Manager, North Florida Fair, Tallahassee and Leon County Extension Agent.

The text invited fair managers to attend a meeting in the Terrazzo room of the Floridan Hotel in Tampa on February 1, 1951, stating "The purpose of this meeting is to discuss among ourselves the advantages and advisability of organizing a State Association of Fairs and Shows ..... the latter alluding to Livestock Shows. Thus, we can document the "Founding Fathers" of our Federation were Lloyd Rhoden, J.C. Huskisson and John Henry Logan.

Nineteen representatives of ten fairs were present along with a representative from the State Extension Service and a "Fair Designer" from Raleigh, North Carolina.

Fairs represented that are still active in Florida were the Florida State Fair, Pinellas County Fair, North Florida Fair, Central Florida Exposition, Pasco County Fair, and the Charlotte County Fair, although this event has no relation to the new Charlotte County Fair which made its debut in January of 1990.

Lloyd Rhoden was appointed Temporary Chairman of the State Association of Fairs and Expositions and the next meeting was set for March 29 of the same year at Silver Springs.

By that time, the organization had a new name "Florida Association of Fairs, Livestock Shows and Expositions" and representatives of ten events and associations were in attendance.

A third organizational meeting was set for May 14, 1951 at which time by-laws would be adopted and officers and directors elected. The meeting was held in Orlando at the Angebilt Hotel. The first slate of Officers and Directors was elected:

C.T. Bickford, Orlando - President
John Henry Logan, Clearwater - 1st District V.P.
Gordon Ellis, Hilliard - 2nd District V.P.
George E. Dryden, Marianna - 3rd District V.P.
W.E. Goerne, Ft. Lauderdale - 4th District V.P.
W.E. Ellis, Ocala - 5th District V.P.
Harry Jack, (city unknown) - Director at Large
J.C. Huskisson, Tampa - Director at Large
Lloyd Rhoden, Tallahassee - Director at Large

Thirty persosn attended this meeting including what could be defined as our first "Associate Members", Mutual Advertising Agency of Miami Beach, Mahaffey Bros. Tent and Awning Co., Memphis, Tennessee and Royal Crown Shows of Tarpon Springs.

Auditing, nominating, program and resolutions committees were formed.

Reports were heard from previously formed committees including Legislative, Carnival and By­ Laws committees and an afternoon session consisted of a "1951 Version" of today's round table discussions.

Dues at this (merely grouped time for members and associates with members) was $25.00 per year.

Honorary Memberships were recommended for representatives of the University system, and Agriculture related state agencies, the Attorney General and State Comptroller.

In the early years, the title "Short Course" was given to the annual meeting and in the 1952-53 period, the organization had a total of 23 fairs. At some point prior to December of 1952 the name of our organization became "Florida Federation of Fairs, Livestock Shows and Expositions", with the word "Federation" replacing "Association" in our title.

At the 1952 meeting, records indicate a motion was made that the Federation pursue the legislature, seeking legislation defining a fair.

1975 - 1977

In 1975, the Federation had 42 member fairs, 8 member Livestock Shows and 34 associate members and met each April in Gainesville.

The programs of the meeting in that time frame are not unlike the programs which comprise the annual meetings we have at this point in time.

Of the 42 member fairs, Levy County, Seminole County, Hillsborough County Jr. Agricultural Fairs and Sumter All Florida Breeders Show at Wildwood no longer exist.

Among the member Livestock Shows, only two remain, the Southeastern Livestock Show at Ocala and the Suwannee River Livestock Show at Fanning Springs.

In 1977, the Legislature created the Bureau of Public Fairs and Expositions with the stated intent to protect the legitimate county fairs of the State of Florida. The bureau became effective on July 1 addressing many of the functions it addresses today such as safety inspections, and Chapter 616 as it was in form at that time.

Aerticles of incorporation for the Florida Federation of Fairs and Livestock Shows were filed in 1977 under the guidance of President Darwin Fuchs.

1978 - 1989

The schedule of the Florida Federation of Fairs and Livestock Shows belonging to the Federation in 1977-1978 included 42 member fairs and livestock shows.

There were 33 Officers, Directors (Past Presidents), Honorary Life Directors and Honorary Directors and three Junior Directors. We had 40 Associate Members.

From that period to the present day there were occasional changes in by-laws but the overall structure of the Florida Federation of Fairs and Livestock Shows is pretty much intact today as it was then.

In 1989 we had 45 member fairs and 140 Associate Members. With the burgeoning growth of Associates we also implemented a Trade Show in conjunction with the annual Short Course in the mid 1980's.

There are many important events which have not found their way onto these pages of the history of our organization for lack of documentation and we sincerely hope member fairs will help us to fill in the voids in the future.


The document below (downloadable as PDF) is the compilation of the first 1990 edition of "A History of Florida Fairs and Livestock Shows" by the History of Florida Fairs Committe Chairman Paul Robinson and Ron Beckey under Kenneth G. Cassels, President of the Florida Federation of Fairs; Part Two was compiled and edited in 2010 by Jean Grant and Doris Graska, and updated annually by Doris Graska.
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