The first fair, or agricultural show, in Siskiyou County was held in October 5-6, 1859 in Fort Jones. I.E. Harris was President of the Siskiyou County Agricultural Association, which sponsored the event.
Fairs were then held in Fort Jones each year until 1867 when through the efforts of Judge E. Steele, who was president of the Siskiyou County Agricultural Society during 1866, the fair was moved to Yreka. There were no fairgrounds and no exhibit buildings in the early fairs. Tents in Yreka City Park and empty store fronts along Miner Street were donated for the few days of the fair and livestock was housed in the local livery stables. William Irwin, who later became governor of California, was the President of the Agricultural Society for the first fair in Yreka.
In 1880, local fairs were abandoned for a while in favor of six-county shows sponsored by the agricultural and mining interests of the counties which included Siskiyou, Shasta, Modoc, Klamath, Lassen and Trinity. The County fair returned annually in 1919 through sponsorship by the Pomona Grange. William L. Kleaver was appointed President -Manager and the fair once again utilized the Yreka City Park and Harmon's Livery Stable.
In 1925 a group of local ranchers and business owners solicited funds for the purchase of the property still in use today - The Siskiyou Golden Fairgrounds. Public subscription contributed $12,000 to the purchase of the property which was later deeded to Siskiyou County contingent upon the county making a levy for construction of an adequate grandstand and exhibit buildings. The Board of Supervisors voted $20,000 by direct levy for the buildings over a two year period.
Under the State Agricultural Association Act, Siskiyou County was designated as the 10th District Agricultural Association and in December 1926 steps were taken to reorganize the Siskiyou County Fair Association which would put the District in line for participation in state funds garnered from pari-mutuel horse race licensing fees. The new Governor appointed a Board of Directors of the 10th District Agricultural Association and they held their first meeting on May 23, 1927, immediately laying plans for the construction of new buildings and opening of the first fair on our current fairground in September 1927. The bids for the new grandstand were rejected in 1927 and it was another year before a bid was accepted. The new grandstand was completed in time for the fair that opened on September 18, 1928; the fair ran for three days.
The 10th DAA hosted the Siskiyou County Fair until 1952 when a second fair was established in Siskiyou County - the "Tulelake Butte Valley Fair". The name was changed at that time to the Siskiyou County Fair and Paul Bunyan Festival. In 1972, the current name, Siskiyou Golden Fair, was selected by the Board of Directors and that name is still used today.
For 85 years, from 1926 to 2010, California Fairs continued to be funded by pari-mutuel horse racing fees. In 2010, fairs were moved into the State general fund and in 2011 because of the state budget crisis all California Fairs had funding eliminated. Today the10th DAA/ Siskiyou Golden Fairgrounds relies heavily on community support, the annual Siskiyou Golden Fair, interim rentals and our three interim events (The Siskiyou Sportmen's Expo, The Tony Nicoletti Memorial Jackpot Show and the Holiday Gift Fair) to stay fiscally sustainable and relevant in our community.
W.L. Kleaver was manager of the fairgrounds from 1919 to 1946, through a short suspension during the depression and World War I - 27 years in total. There have only been seven managers to follow in Kleaver’s footsteps including: Steward Waite (June 1946 – March 1948), Ed Mathews (March 1948 – March 1963), Jim Jones (March 1963 – December 1969), William Whitaker (January 1970 – March 1974), Ron Lillard (April 1974 – December 1999), Rebecca Weathers Desmond (January 2000 – March 2010), and Cliff Munson (June 2010 - Present).