Remembering the Fair 3

Celebrating Lee’s Summit’s 150th anniversary

Did you know Lee’s Summit, Missouri, hosted the Jackson County Fair for more than 40 years? The Fair was held in Harris Park, located at U.S. 50 and M-291 south highways, and people from all over Jackson County and beyond traveled to Lee’s Summit to exhibit prize-winning livestock, enter home-made items and goods for judging and to celebrate their agricultural roots. The event always kicked off with a parade, which came through downtown Lee’s Summit.

The fair had famous visitors as well. In letters to wife Bess, President Harry S. Truman once wrote he was taking a Hereford cow to show in Lee’s Summit. After his presidency, the Fair held a “Harry S. Truman Appreciation Night” in 1956 to honor the former president and native of Jackson County.

In 1976, our country’s bicentennial, Lee’s Summit was named an official National Bicentennial Community designated by the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration. There were special celebrations during the Jackson County Fair, including a Native American pow wow.  By 1980, the Jackson County Fair was no longer held, but a great history remained.

In celebration of Lee’s Summit’s Sesquicentennial in 2015, an old-time county fair has been planned for Memorial Day weekend, May 22-23. The event, called A Fair to Remember, runs from 5-11 p.m. on  Friday, May 22, and 10 a.m. – 11 p.m. on Saturday, May 23, at Paradise Park, 1021 NE Colbern Rd., with many of the events and fun activities that were featured all those years ago when the Jackson County Fair took place in Lee’s Summit.

From agricultural activities to musicians, pageants and some popular fair fare, the weekend event is part of the Truly 150 campaign – a year-long celebration of Lee’s Summit’s 150th anniversary.

The event will include a 4-H clubs, Missouri Town display, Civil War encampments, a Battle of Lone Jack display, and antique tractors, all in honor of the past Jackson County Fair events. The event also will feature “Toby Shows,” which were traveling rural American theatre shows popular in the early twentieth century and featured vaudeville-type melodramas.

Admission is free; tickets for rides and other activities will be available for purchase. All proceeds will be donated to the Lee’s Summit Historical Society and the History Museum.

For more information about Lee’s Summit’s Truly 150 Sesquicentennial, visit