Fairs and Festivals

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Licking County is home to a great number of annual fairs and festivals that take place throughout the county. The most well known is the Hartford Fair, which took over as the Licking County fair when the Newark fairgrounds were converted into Moundbuilders State Park in 1933.

Hartford Fair

The first Hartford Fair in Croton, Ohio was celebrated in 1858. [1] When the Licking County Fairgrounds closed down in the early part of the 20th century, the Hartford Fair became known as the official Licking County Fair. The fair was officially incorporated in January 1870 signed by Jared Foreseman, Joseph Coleman, H.R. Pumphrey and A.G. Graves [2] as the Hartford Independent Agricultural Society. [3] It was originally intended to promote agriculture among the county, and still has a strong reputation for its livestock shows and competitions. The fair is celebrated every year in August.

Licking County Fair

The first Licking County Fair was on the grounds of the Courthouse in October 1833 in Newark. [4] By 1853 it moved to the Great Circle earthworks, which was home to the Ohio State Fair in 1854 when it was hosted in Newark. In 1898 Idlewilde Park was opened at the Great Circle and hosted the fair which included the lakes, boathouse, bowling alley, roller coaster, bicycle track and more. Idlewilde Park was later renamed Rigel Park and it was deeded to the Ohio Historical Society on October 11th, 1933 by the Licking County Commissioners. It now stands as Moundbuilders Park.

Flint Festival

Held every year in September, the annual Buckeye Flint Festival first began in 1989. The purpose of the festival was to recognize flint, the state gemstone, and to highlight the prominent Native American heritage in Licking County. [5] The festival features exhibits of flint, minerals, fossils and Native American artifacts on display to the public, held on Courthouse Square in Downtown Newark. [6]

The Ohio State Fair in Newark

In 1854, Newark had the great honor of hosting the Ohio State Fair. The Licking County Agricultural Society was organized in 1848, and helped in the creation of the State Agricultural Society in Columbus. Six years later, the state fair was held in Licking County as a tribute to the farmers from Licking County who brainstormed the idea of holding an annual state fair. [7] The State Fair was held at the Licking County Fairgrounds, Idlewilde Park, now known as Mountbuilders State Memorial. [8] Railroads were organized throughout the state to transport citizens to the fairgounds in Newark at a reduced cost. [9] The fair originally meant to travel throughout the state, was slated for Zanesville that year, but they were unable to host it due to funding. [10] Moreover, due to the cholera outbreak that swept Licking County the summer of 1854, the fair was postponed until late October.

Other Fairs and Festivals


  • Strawberries on the Square-Newark


  • Granville Irish Festival-Granville
  • Jazz and Ribs Festival-Newark


  • Pataskala Street Fair-Pataskala
  • Summer Festival-Hopewell


  • Black Hand Gorge Festival-Toboso
  • Millersport Sweet Corn Festival-Millersport
  • Swappers Day-Johnstown
  • Thornville Backwoods Fest-Thornville


  • Celtic Music and Potato Festival-Newark
  • Happy Apple Days-Fredonia [11]


  1. Sherman, H. (1997, August 9). Hartford Fair, age 139, carves its niche. The Columbus Dispatch.
  2. Carrelli, J. (1983, August 6). Fair has history of service, fun. The Newark Advocate, p. 8.
  3. Arter, W. (1980). 122nd Hartford Fair (p. 3). Croton, Ohio.
  4. Fleming, D. (2008, August 3). Original Licking County fairs were at Square, mounds. The Newark Advocate.
  5. Shryock, C. (1990, September 30). Festival a winner with flint. The Newark Advocate.
  6. Hepler, R. (1999, September 23). Fall fest features flint. The Newark Advocate, p. 3.
  7. The State Fair in Newark. (1954, March 11). The Newark Advocate.
  8. Scenes from yesteryear. (1996, November 19). The Newark Advocate.
  9. This picture was used to advertise State Fair held in Newark 78 years ago. (1932, September 23). The Newark Advocate.
  10. Stephenson, D. (1986, July 20). Looking back at the Ohio State Fair. The Newark Advocate, p. 1B.
  11. Folder Fairs and Festivals, Local History Vertical File, Licking County Library, Newark, Ohio.