Putting a Face to Highland Fair History

Written By: Dorothy Stephenson

Highland County, Virginia, Highland County Fair, associationEvery year, many of us attend the Highland County Fair. We pay for our Season Ticket. We treat ourselves to ribeye steak sandwiches, ice cream, cotton candy, milkshakes, onion rings, funnel cakes, and fried Oreos. We pass over a quarter for a game of Bingo, or we yell for our favorite driver in the Demolition Derby.

Most of us give little thought to Highland County Fairs of yesteryear while we’re watching black smoke roll from the Truck & Tractor Pull or admiring the floriculture, art, photography, and canned goods exhibits in the Elementary School gym.

There is a history, a whole way of the Fair, that many of us don’t remember. When things were simple. When the only games consisted of things like a “Watermelon Seed Spitting contest.” When there were no bright lights, bells, and whistles.

These pictures, which the Highland County Fair Committee believes to be circa 1950s, give us a glimpse into those early years of the Highland County Fair. When folks were happy with the simple things. When the main attractions were showing off their livestock, their harvest for the year, or just how far they could spit that seed.

Enjoy the Highland County Fair through images from a simpler lens.



If you recognize any of these faces,

please share in the comments below!


About the Author

Blog Designer & Editor-in-Chief

Dorothy Stephenson grew up on her family's cattle operation in Meadowdale, located in the southwest corner of Highland County. When she wasn't on horseback helping her father gather and work cattle, you'd likely find her (still on horseback) jumping creeks in her family's nearby "Big Pasture." Today, though she doesn't ride horses much anymore, she has her own cattle, land, and expansion plans for a farm. Additionally, (and with the inherited, Stephenson, entrepreneurial spirit) she owns two small businesses in Highland County - Sundance Media & Design and Sundance Studio & Productions, which houses another of Dorothy's long-time loves - Clogging. Dorothy loves exploring new places, skills, and ideas, and she intends to live life to the fullest as long as it will let her. (Oh! And she LOVES Christmas!)


  1. David & LINDA Johnston

    The girl with steer is Mary Judy Swecker Riddick. The horse show pic is Mack Ratcliffe, Jimmy Varner & Elizabeth Swecker, Sheep show picture is David Kiser, Bob Swecker but can’t identify 3rd person with head down, Can’t identify girls on float or the man showing single sheep. The last pic we think may be Scoop Swecker, unidentified, Bob Swecker & maybe Edwin Jones.

    • admin admin

      Thanks so much, David and Linda! This is great! 🙂

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