1945 – When it all Started
The Montgomery County Agricultural Fair was born out of the desire of 4-H leaders to provide a county show for the 4-H members in Montgomery County. This would allow the 4-H members to exhibit their prize livestock, garden and home economics projects to the community. Their initial meeting occurred on a cold, March night in Rockville in 1945 with the intent to start a Fair. The Montgomery County Fair is now today, one of the largest county Fairs in the State of Maryland.
During the first years of this new program from 1945 to 1948, anyone in the community with an interest in agriculture donated their time and efforts to provide 4-H and FFA youth the opportunity to compete for top awards with their projects. Parents of these youth served refreshments for the participants, sold catalog advertisements, built pens and ties for the livestock, and organized the entries. Prize money was provided by the Maryland State Fair Board with the shows being held on borrowed ground.
The Montgomery County Agricultural Center Inc. (MCAC) was formed as a privately operated 501(c) (3) non-profit organization on January 7, 1949, when a group of local farmers were elected as the first Board of Directors by the volunteer membership of the organization. The MCAC had recently purchased 64 acres of land adjacent to the railroad tracks from Herman Rabbitt, a successful farmer and landowner in Gaithersburg. On June 4th, 1949, hundreds of volunteers participated in after an old-fashioned barn raising and 12 outbuildings were constructed in one day. The site of the new Montgomery County Agricultural Center was created. Dedicated volunteers donated time, materials and talent to construct and continue operation of the Montgomery County Agricultural Fairgrounds. The Fairgrounds would not be what it is today if it were not for those visionary pioneers who were committed to agricultural education and family entertainment.
As is true today for the agricultural center, the volunteers were, and still are, necessary to the successful operation of the Fairgrounds, through continued contributions of materials and free labor for the construction of the new facilities, as well as upgrading the old. A network of more than 2,000 volunteers continue providing their time, making the agricultural center a vital part of the business community in Montgomery County. The nine day Montgomery County Agricultural Fair that is held in mid-August requires support from over 800 volunteers who assume the responsibility for organizing and producing the single largest annual event in Montgomery County.
The positive relationships and friendly atmosphere here at the Fairgrounds makes the MCAC a unique organization that continues to provide service to the agricultural and nonagricultural segments of our population while educating the public.
Agriculture – A Central Purpose
Aside from our primary objective of being a showcase for 4-H and FFA members exhibiting livestock, garden, and home economic projects, the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair promotes agriculture through education of the community regarding agricultural issues and providing a meeting place for those interested in agriculture to encourage growth for future generations. The center is also committed to educating members of urban communities, helping them to acquire an appreciation of the role that agriculture plays in our daily lives.
Although the Montgomery County Agricultural Center has always given top priority in the usage of the grounds to county youth involved in 4-H and FFA activities, the Fairgrounds are rented throughout the year to businesses and community organizations for shows, markets, meetings, receptions banquets, and Festivals. The revenue brought in by these rentals, provides us with the ability to make improvements to the grounds for the comfort of Fair patrons and rental clients.
The Montgomery County Agricultural Center has been recognized by local and county governments as being an integral part of the business community by making contributions to the economic and social development of Gaithersburg and Montgomery County.
The Montgomery County Agricultural Center continues its involvement in community service projects such as its VIP program for children who are facing life-threatening illnesses. These children and their families are treated to a special day during the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair.