HISTORY OF THE 4-H FAIR & NJ PEACH FESTIVAL
The Gloucester County 4-H Leaders’ Association Fair committee was organized “for the building of better citizenship, youth activities, prosperous agriculture, industry and home life”. Its original committee members organized the first annual fair and horse show in 1947 in Paulsboro, NJ with the purpose of aiding in the promotion of agriculture, Stock Raising, Home Economics and Industry.
From the start, the Fair although popular, was not a great success financially. By 1949, they had a deficit of $3,000, which grew to $8,000 in 1950 even with sponsors and fundraising efforts, including an annual Fair book. Even with this shortage of funds, the Association voted to have the Fair again in 1951.
In 1952, the decision was made to move the Fair to the Aura School grounds in Aura, NJ and it was voted that the “Fair” be incorporated as a non-profit organization. The Certificate of Incorporation was signed, sealed and notarized on January 29, 1953 and received and recorded in the Clerk’s Office of Gloucester County, Woodbury, NJ or March 10, 1953.
For the next few years the Fair continued to grow in size and success. In 1956 it was deemed necessary to hold the Fair at another location because of building operations at Aura school, so once again the location moved; this time to the New County Road Depot in Clayton, NJ.
Over time, the Fair Association directors had discussions on purchasing or leasing various properties for the annual fair. In 1963 it was once again suggested to purchase a permanent location for the Fair to be held and a committee was formed to find suitable locations. Several properties were looked at and then in 1966 the Fair Association entered into negotiation for the purchase of the Nicolosi Farm on Bridgeton Pike in Mullica Hill as the permanent location of the Gloucester County 4-H Fair Grounds. Their negotiations were successful and in April 1966, seven board members signed a note from Westville Bank to close on the property. It took a nearly a year, but the Fair was held on 4-H Fair Association property in 1967.
Since that time the Fair and the property it is held on have certainly changed. Permanent buildings and structures have been erected; two pole barns, a small refreshment stand, bathroom facilities, an office and announcers booth, a barbeque pavilion, three livestock barns and three horse barns with over 100 stalls. In addition, as a mecca for equestrian enthusiasts, the grounds also have a large and small horse arena.
In 1995, the New Peach Promotion Council decided to combine efforts with the Gloucester County 4-H Fair Association to gain greater exposure for their county peach event and the New Jersey Peach Festival was created. In 1996, the event was held in conjunction with the Gloucester County 4-H Fair and has been growing ever since.
The Fair has come a long way since 1947, but it remains true to its original purpose. While the characteristics of Gloucester County have changed dramatically and there are fewer rural areas, the Fair still brings the feeling of an “old-time country fair”, which is now a new experience for many.
All of the success of this event has come about through the hard work of dedication of volunteers. The Fair essentially remains a voluntary activity involving hundreds of Gloucester County residents. Farmers, local businesses, community organizations and 4-H families have donated countless hours over the past 60+ years to build the Gloucester County Fair and NJ Peach Festival into the outstanding tradition it has become.