About the Montgomery County Fairgrounds
Ag Center History
1945 – A Fair Beginning
The Montgomery County Agricultural Fair was born out of the desire of 4-H leaders to provide a county show for the 4-H members in Montgomery County to exhibit their prize livestock, garden and home economics projects. Their initial meeting on a cold, March night in Rockville in 1945 started what today is one of the largest county fair in the State of Maryland.
During the first years of this new program from 1945 to 1948, anyone with an interest in agriculture donated their time and efforts to provide 4-H and FFA youth the opportunity to compete for top awards with their projects. Parents of these youth served refreshments for the participants, sold catalog advertisements, built pens and ties for the livestock, and organized the entries. Prize money was provided by the Maryland State Fair Board, with the shows being held on borrowed ground.
The Montgomery County Agricultural Center Inc. (MCAC) was formed as a privately operated 501(c) (3) non-profit organization on January 7, 1949, when a group of local farmers were elected as the first Board of Directors by the volunteer membership of the organization. The MCAC had recently purchased 64 acres of land adjacent to the railroad tracks from Herman Rabbitt, a successful farmer and landowner in the town of Gaithersburg, Maryland. June 4th, 1949, after an old-fashioned barn raising, 12 outbuildings on the site of the new Montgomery County Agricultural Center were created. Upon this property, dedicated volunteers donated time, materials and talent to construct what is known today as the Montgomery County Agricultural Fairgrounds.
As is true today for the agricultural center, the volunteers were necessary to the establishment of the center, contributing materials and labor for the construction of the new facilities. A network of more than 2,000 volunteers continue making contributions of their time, making the agricultural center a vital part of the business community in Montgomery County. Each year, the biggest event of the year for our organization is the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair. This nine day event in mid August will require support from over 600 volunteers who assume the responsibility for organizing and producing the single largest annual event in Montgomery County.
Continuously facilities are expanded upon and upgraded, as well as the upgrading of the classes and premiums offered at the fair.
The positive relationships and friendly atmosphere here at the fairgrounds makes the MCAC a great organization that continues to provide service to the agricultural and nonagricultural segments of our population.
Agriculture – A Central Purpose
Aside from its top objective of being a showcase for 4-H and FFA members exhibiting livestock and other projects, the agricultural center’s purpose is to promote agriculture through education of the community regarding agricultural issues and providing a meeting place for those interested in agriculture to secure growth in future generations. The center is also committed to educating members of urban communities, helping them to acquire an appreciation and understanding of agriculture.
Although the Montgomery County Agricultural Center has always given top priority in the usage of the grounds to county youth involved in 4-H and FFA activities, the fairgrounds are rented year round to businesses and community organizations for shows, markets, meetings, receptions and banquets. Through these rentals, improvements to the grounds are made for the comfort of fair participants and attendees, as well as rental clients.
The Montgomery County Agricultural Center has been recognized by local and county governments as being an integral part of the business community, making contributions to the economic and social development of Gaithersburg and Montgomery County. Just recently, the center received the 1997 Governor’s Volunteerism Award for its significant efforts in volunteerism. The City of Gaithersburg also presented the center with the 1997 Golden Shovel Award for its continuing commitment to beautifying and enhancing the City of Gaithersburg.
The agricultural center continues its involvement in community service projects such as its VIP program for terminally ill children. A group of 4-H and FFA members along with staff and volunteers of the center take the fair to Children’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. and Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville, where the patients are treated to a fair like atmosphere right there in the hospital. In the same program, children facing life-threatening illnesses are treated as kings and queens during a special day set aside for them during the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair.
Montgomery County Agricultural Center, Inc.
A private, non-profit organization, the Montgomery County Agricultural Center, Inc. depends on the support of the business community to take part in the fair by sponsoring programs and promotional items throughout the county fair. These sponsorships benefit everyone concerned; from the business which receives publicity for the sponsorship, to the financial relief of the fair, to the fairgoers themselves who are treated to one of the largest county fairs Maryland has to offer, thanks to the continued support of the Montgomery County community. Community Sponsorships assist in funding popular programs such programs as the VIP Terminally Ill Program, Senior Citizen’s Day and the spectacular line-up of entertainment, to name a few.
The Montgomery County Agricultural Center continues to move forward during the 1990′s, realizing its impact on the economic development of the community as well as the social impact the center can make on the region.