THE HISTORY OF THE FOREST AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY
The first record of a fair being held in Forest was at the corner of Broadway and Main Streets in 1870. The following year it was held in the drill shed of the local militia. In 1874 twelve acres of land was purchased and named Forest Pleasure Park. This property was used as a fair ground until 1909 when the present grounds were acquired. The town of Forest bought the grounds in 1939 and leased it to the Forest Agricultural Society for its annual exhibition.
The 1879 prize list offers some interesting prizes. A large framed picture of Queen Victoria was the first prize for the best 10 pound crock of butter. The merchant also agreed to purchase the butter at the market price. A clock was given for fancy work and three peach trees was the prize for the best two pumpkins. Another merchant gave one dollar for turkey red wheat. Twenty dollars was offered for a “farmer’s race” for horses that had never won money before.
A special attraction featured Miss Flo K. Tomkins, the greatest female aerial navigator in North America. Miss Tomkins ascended in a hot-air balloon and then parachuted back to earth. The last night of the fair featured a stage play (usually by William Shakespeare) in the town hall.
In the late 1800’s the town brass band played at every fair. Originally called the 7th Militia Battalion Band, it changed its name to the romantic Forest Excelsior Band.
A 1903 prize list offered such classes as rolled butter, hard soap, honey, maple syrup, union blankets, darned wool socks, etched quilt, slumber robe, factory flannel, wooden pump and buggy top.
A Class “B” status was reached in 1983, the Forest Fair expanded to a three day fair by adding a Sunday fair featuring a demolition derby.