The Cleveland County fair is the keeper of many traditions and old-fashioned family fun. New in 2023 were the Scottish Highland Games demonstrated by the OKC Area Scottish YEET Club. Back again, the Indian Ceremony highlighting Native American spiritual dances presented by the Apache Blackfoot Society showcased some Native American culture and audiences also enjoyed square dancing with the Silver Spurs, 4-H Cloggers. Antique tractor pulls and exhibits that highlight canning and quilting are also part of the cultural preservation featured at the Cleveland County fair.
While fairgrounds staff work hard behind the scenes to assist in the Cleveland County fair, fair board members run the fair. The fair board is comprised of nine elected fair board members. Three members each are elected from each of the three county commissioner districts. They meet monthly and planning for each year’s fair starts months in advance. During the fair, they work countless hours coordinating events and serving other duties to make the fair a success.
2023 Fair Board Members:
- Danny Belinson, OKC, District 1
- Jerry Calvert, Treasurer, Norman, District 1
- Jake Calvert, Norman, District 1
- David Spalding, Norman, District 2
- John McDaniel, Board President, Norman, District 2
- Carol Doner, Norman, District 2
- Ronnie Oehlschlager, Noble, District 3
- Carl Mize, Noble, District 3
- Christa Spears, Lexington, District 3
Fairgrounds staffer Sandy McClure has served as Fair Board Secretary since 2014 and this was her last county fair as she will retire in January. Sandy has been involved with the Cleveland County Fair for about 40 years in one way or another from her involvement with 4-H and serving on the fair board as well as working at the fairgrounds office. As a member of Cleveland County Oklahoma Home and Community Education (OHCE) she has won many blue ribbons and best of show awards as a fair exhibitor.
Sandy plans to continue exhibiting at the fair and will stay active with OHCE.
Exhibits bring entries in three categories: Open, 4-H and Oklahoma Home and Community Education. Open entries include youth through adult contests while 4-H and OHCE are for those members only. County Extension Director Brenda Hill-Alta recruits superintendents and judges for the exhibits. Superintendents are volunteers who assist people when the bring in their entries. To ensure fairness, judges usually come from outside the county.
Best of Show Winners:
OHCE Best of Show Winners:
Horse and Livestock Shows
The annual Cleveland County Horse Show, hosted the weekend prior to the county fair is a favorite for many in the horse community. It’s also great entertainment for spectators or for anyone who wants to know more about the sport. The horse show includes Hunter Jumpers and Western Pleasure classes.
Fair board members facilitate the livestock shows and arrange for judges from other counties to ensure fairness. Most of the participants are from 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA). Livestock entries this year included: Beef - 23, Swine – 13, Sheep – 67, Meat Goats – 26, Dairy Cattle – 41, Dairy goats – 46, Rabbits – 15 and Poultry – 264.
Popular community contests open to all with no entry fee included arm wrestling, baby crawl, celebrity cow milking, stick horse races, kiddie tractor pull (pedal pull), weight lifting, wiener dog races and wiener dog costume contest. While it does cost to enter arm wrestling and weight lifting, the other competitions are free entry and all are free to spectators. In particular, the baby crawl race is unpredictable and entertaining. Competitors come from across the region to enter the wiener dog races and costume contest with the chance to win prizes! The Kiddie Pedal Pull on Saturday is also free to enter or to watch and includes age-grouped children pedaling child-sized tractors pulling weighted sleds. Our county fair hosts the Oklahoma State Championship featuring county winners from across the state, as well as the annual Cleveland County competition which is open to entry by any Cleveland County child who is a resident. These events are popular with boys and girls alike.
Awards — Fair Patron and Fair Family
The 2022 fair patron was awarded to two outstanding volunteers by the fair board:
Jade Hardisty and Amber Spires. A fair patron is someone who has volunteered with enthusiasm, patience and integrity for the county fair year after year. They are always ready to help in any way they can. They look for ways to help improve the fair and share their knowledge.
The fair board also recognizes a fair family each year. Like the fair patron award, this honors a family in which all members volunteered with enthusiasm, patience and integrity for the county fair year after year. They are always ready to help in any way they can. They look for ways to help improve the fair and share their knowledge. This year’s fair family was the Carl and Robin Mize family, including Janae, Jennifer and Jaran; Haden, Karson, Alexis, Izzy, Peyton, Kruz, Lane, Kinley, Gage, and Eli.
Plaques are awarded for Breed Champions in each Livestock show.
The Premier Exhibitor recognition is for the best of the best. The Premier Livestock Exhibitor Contest is open to Junior Livestock Exhibitors who are bona fide school-aged members of Cleveland County and must exhibit three or more species at the Cleveland County Free Fair. The species for this contest includes: cattle, swine, sheep, meat goats, dairy cattle, dairy goats, poultry and rabbits. The highest placing entry in each species will be awarded points based on how well their animals placed in the shows. An individual exhibitor will not be eligible to win the Premier Livestock Exhibitor Contest two consecutive years. The Livestock Exhibitor with the highest cumulative points will be named the Premier Livestock Exhibitor for the Cleveland County Free Fair.
Buckles are for Showmanship
A Showmanship Contest among the beef, swine, sheep and goats livestock shows includes the top three exhibitors in each age class. The winner in each age class receives a Buckle. Showmanship winners from these go on to compete for the Master Showman.
Carnival & Vendors
In 2023, Cleveland County fair board members fully committed to putting on the best fair ever and it showed. Cleveland County leadership, staff and fair board members were excited to have Wade Shows back again. Wade Shows owns over 100 amusement rides and attractions and services over 15 million people each year, playing more State Fairs than any other carnival in history and working with great events such as the Oklahoma State Fair, the North Carolina State Fair, the Missouri State Fair, the South Florida Fair, the San Antonio Livestock Show and Exhibition, the Alabama State Fair, the Delaware State Fair, the Florida State Fair, and the Alabama National Fair. Wade Shows also works with many large county and regional fairs as well as city and civic sponsored events.