Big business at the Old State Fairgrounds, 1929

Merchants and Manufacturers State Fair 1929
The handful of people in the foreground offers a sense of scale.

This was the Merchants and Manufacturing Building, which had opened eight years before with the claim it was bigger than Madison Square Garden. Built at the old Kentucky State fairgrounds, the cavernous room was filled with company kiosks, including “Southern Star” and “Auto Insurance.”

The old fairgrounds were in the neighborhood now known as Chickasaw. In 1907, 150 acres were purchased at the end of Cecil Avenue, west of 38th Street and north of Gibson Lane, and the fair was held there a year later, according to the University of Louisville Photographic Archives, the source of this photo.

Kentucky State FairThe Kentucky State Fair is one of the oldest in the United States, according to the Filson Historical Society, dating to 1816, when Colonel Lewis Sanders of Fayette County organized the first one in the commonwealth. It became official in 1902 after being mandated by the Kentucky General Assembly.

In 1956 the fair was moved to the Kentucky State Fairgrounds and Exposition Center where it remains today. This year’s opened today and runs through Aug. 28. Admission, hours and more information here.

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