The History of the Tulsa Fair Grounds and the Tulsa State Fair

The first Tulsa State Fair was held in 1935 though there were various street fairs in the present downtown area dating back as early as the 1890s, then in 1903 The Tulsa County Free Fair began, at the Western Association baseball park in downtown Tulsa, located at Archer Street and Boston Avenue. In 1913 the enactment of the Oklahoma Free Fair Act made Tulsa was the home of the Dry Farming Congress, and  agriculturists from all over the world .


In 1926, a group was established in order to decide on a new location that would become the present-day fairgrounds and Expo Square. An art deco styled fairgrounds pavilion was constructed from a $500,000 bond issued in 1931 and in 1935 legislation took the local free fair to state fair status.


In 1949 a spring livestock show merged with the Tulsa state fair, further expanding the ever growing appeal. 1951 Bell's ammusement Park was moved to the Fairgrounds and in 1957 fair was officially named "Oklahoma's Golden Anniversary Exposition." By 1958 the annual attendance reached over six hundred thousand.


The International Petroleum Exposition Center, the world's largest building under a single roof at the time, was completed in 1966. For many years it was the biggest fair in the state and among the top twelve largest in the United states according to the International Association of Fairs and Expositions.

Over the next few decades the Fair dealt with numerous ownership and legality issues including a ruling by Tulsa District Attorney S.M. Fallis, Jr in 1967 that the Tulsa Exposition and Fair Corp. was not legally constituted and invalidated a 50-year lease on the fairgrounds, and The Tulsa County Fairgrounds Trust Authority being established to take control of the fairgrounds from the Tulsa Exposition and Fair Corp in 1970.

 in 1977, two Grand Jury probes lead to rock concerts being banned from Expo square after 60,000 people crammed into a Willie Nelson Concert. and in 1984 the Tulsa Speedway was shut down after noise complaints from nearby residents.

From then to the present The Tulsa Fairgrounds have undergone many changes and seen the rise and fall of different exhibitions, businesses, name changes and trends but the fair grounds still stand tall and once a year for the Tulsa State Fair, the tradition still boasts local excellence and culture, bringing in crowds that top 1 million!




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