Guest column: What is the Carter County Free Fair?

The Daily Ardmoreite
Danielle Wells Carter County FCS Educator
Carter County Free Fair

 Each year, countless hours are spent preparing for an event that has been happening in Carter County for 79 years! Just think, this event could be one that your great-great grandparents attended!

The Carter County Free Fair is for the benefit of all the citizens of the county. The object of the free fair is to promote agriculture, horticulture, livestock and poultry raising, manufacturing, arts, trades and every industry of the county.

Fair Board: There are nine elected members of the Carter County Free Fair Board. There are three members elected from each county district, one from each district every year. Fair Board members do not get paid. In fact, they spend countless hours of their time each year planning and implementing the county fair. The county fair could not function without the leadership of this board. In December, the board meets and schedules the quarterly meetings. Then the dates are filed with the county clerk’s office.

Finances: The fair board applies for grants. These funds help pay for the trophies and ribbons, including the payment of premiums paid out to exhibitors.

Other sources of income for the fair board: The carnival. The fair board has a written contract with the Pride of Texas to provide a clean, well-maintained carnival for the county fair. The fair board receives a percent of the proceeds from the carnival each year that go to offset the yearly budget. It takes a little over $30,000 to finance the Carter County Free Fair of which almost $15,000 goes back to the exhibitors by way of premiums, ribbons, trophies and etc…

Without the income from the carnival each year, the Carter County Free Fair would be very plain and uneventful. All citizens benefit from the carnival’s income by getting a high-quality experience when they attend the Carter County Free Fair.

Why is the OSU Extension Office involved? It has been history for many years that the Extension office takes part in the county fair. Here in Carter County, the Extension office staff takes care of entries, recruits volunteers to help with the fair and even assist-with many of the contests at the fair. The Carter County OSU Extension staff can be found all over the fairgrounds during the fair, working to make your fair experience a great one.

Why do we have a fair manager? The fair manager works with vendors, organizations, and volunteers to organize the events and activities held at the fair. The fair manager is accountable to the fair board and must have all events, contests and activities approved by the board before they happen at the fair.

Volunteers: The fair could not happen without the countless volunteers we have. The Carter County Oklahoma Home and Community Education Clubs spend hours taking entries, displaying entries, and carefully watching over the entries each year. They also run the CCOHCE kitchen on the south side of the coliseum under the green awning. 4-H volunteers work long hours in exhibit areas to benefit the youth of Carter County. Volunteers from all areas of the livestock industry are busy in the barns with the horse show, cattle show, pig show, goat show, and sheep show. The fair could not run without volunteers! If you would like to volunteer, contact me!

Who can enter? Anyone living in Carter County! There are a number of open class exhibits for youth and adults that can be entered along with 4-H, FFA and youth divisions. It’s easy to enter, pick up a fair book at the Extension Office or go to the fair website . We are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm and closed noon to 1:00 pm. Our office is located at 25 A Street NE, Suite 200 (old Noble Energy building, above the Election Board). All indoor entries will be taken on Tuesday, September 7th from 4 – 7:30 pm. Indoor entries will be released on Sunday, September 12th from 1 – 3 pm. Indoor entries are located at the north wing of the Hardy Murphy Coliseum.

It is my hope that by reading this article you have a better understanding of the Carter County Free Fair and appreciate all the time and effort that goes into the planning and implementation of the fair. The fair doesn’t just happen overnight. It is well thought out and planned months in advance.

If you see someone on the fair board, a county commissioner or a volunteer at the fair, a nice smile and “thank you” would be very well received. I think sometimes we tend to take things for granted and forget to thank all those involved in making it happen.

I hope you will come out and enjoy the fair this year and participate as well! Your neighbors will be happy to see you!

If you would like more information, please contact the Carter County OSU Extension Office at (580) 223-6570, email me at or contact Angie Green, fair manager at (580)224-9626, email, website or Facebook

Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating: The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.