A Look Back into the History of the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds

The Fair had no permanent home but was held in various locations within the Springfield city limits. For the last part of the 1920’s and early 1930’s, a location around what is now Pickwick and Grand Streets was used.

The need for a permanent location was evident, and a group of local businessmen, headed by Louis Reps, organized to locate and establish a permanent headquarters. This research started in the early 1930’s.

A suitable location was found adjacent to the Zoo grounds and encompassing the city’s racetrack and grandstand. This was ideal because of the large amount of acreage and beautiful tree-laden hills. The racetrack, although somewhat primitive, was suitable for the grandstand spectaculars that were planned for Fairs to come.

The land was already owned by the Springfield Park Department and, as soon as an approval was given by that organization, the formational committee proposed an 1⁄4-mill tax levy that would go for the improvements needed to the grounds. The first Fair was set for October 10-16, 1937.