By Christopher Selmek - firstname.lastname@example.org of Urbana Daily Citizen
Photo by Christopher Selmek Urbana Daily Citizen
Goshen Memorial Park will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first event held there, back when it was called the Central Ohio Fairgrounds, on Saturday, Sept. 21, with food, music and an appearance by actor and singer Tom Wopat of the “Dukes of Hazzard” television show. Sept. 21 is the day in 1869 that Mechanicsburg hosted the first central Ohio fair, a regional fair held for 25 years. The event included many agricultural competitions before disbanding.
“In 1868 there was a group that was forming, the Central Ohio Fair Association, and their plans were to create a regional fair,” said local historian Stan Oliver. “There were county fairs going on, and there’s a lot of folks around who believe it was originally the state fair, and that is not true … The first fair was held in September and it was mainly a weekend thing, it wasn’t like a week-long fair, but it was a regional fair and it originally involved five counties. It became, eventually, eight counties that took part in that.”
According to Oliver, the ground was not developed and the park sat empty for a while, but by 1910 the land was being used for an annual Chautauqua with events and speakers. For a while it was referred to as Matinee Park until after World War II when the park was dedicated to veterans on Memorial Day of 1948 and officially named Goshen Township Memorial Park.
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