One hundred and fifty years ago, the Brigden Fair began as a gathering to show horses and cattle at Reilly's Tavern on the farm of Philip Reilly, located on Concession 8, Lot 26 of Moore Township.
When the villages of Corunna and Mooretown were established in the following years, the fair, known as the Moore Fair, was held alternately at each location. In 1871, the Canada Southern Railroad was completed between St. Thomas and the St. Clair River. Brigden and Courtright developed along the railroad lines and each had a turn hosting the fair. Courtright had the fair in 1875. In 1876, when the fair was held in Brigden, the inside exhibits were displayed in the unfinished Lorne House Hotel that was being erected by J. Battram.
In 1881, several local men from Brigden purchased a small tract of land on which to host the fair. This land was located on the east bank of the Sydenham River and the contract was signed by James Skeoch, John Armstrong, and John MacKenzie.
Later on in the decade of the 1880s, the fair once again changed location and was held on the banks of the St. Clair River. In 1884, it was held in Mooretown, and in 1888 it was hosted by Courtright. It is assumed that the change of venue was intended to make the fair more accessible to people living on the west side of the township.
In 1889, several men from the community of Brigden, realizing the advantages that would arise from having the fair permanently in the village, purchased 15 acres of land that were located south of the village, from J. Battrarn. These men included R.C. Shaw, Hiram Hales, and R. M. Brown, along with other local businessmen and farmers. They paid $2,500 for the land.
This land was rented to the Moore Agricultural Society as a permanent site for the fair and the name was changed from Moore Fair to Brigden Fair. In 1915, the property was described as having a high board fence along the north side, made of elm, to which animals could be tied. A frame structure housed grain exhibits and ladies' exhibits. A lean-to had been added to this building from which local church groups served meals. The floor was mud and the walls had large cracks.
In the same year, the Moore Agricultural Society purchased the property for $1,935.50. A sum of $1800 was borrowed from John Armstrong, and the mortgage was signed by James Smith, William Manley, John Poland, James Skeoch, J. Alex Shaw, C.C. Watson, Robert Young, William Moore, John Ford, Thomas Holmes, Leslie Morrison, John Irvin, William Doolan, John Duncan, A. Taylor, John McBean, A.P. Armstrong, and William South. The remaining $135.50 was paid from funds that the Moore Agricultural Society had on hand.
Moore Agricultural Society - 150 years