History of the Island County Fair

The idea for an Island County Fair began in in 1912 when nine Coupeville men formed the Island County Fair Association funded with private stock. Fairs were held at the play pavilion from 1912 to 1916 when it was decided to discontinue the fair. The decision was due primarily to the difficulty for people to travel to Coupeville on the existing roads.

The concept of an Island County Fair was reincarnated at the Langley Marina in 1917.

To get the fair started, J.C. Langley, town banker and nephew of the town namesake James Weston Langley, announced that all the women who agreed to provide an exhibit would be eligible to hunt for a gold coin he dropped somewhere on his farm.

Exhibits were housed in the large dance pavilion on the dock.


1917. Island County Fair at the Langley Marina (Courtesy South Whidbey Historical Society).

1922: The Fair moved to Cascade Avenue

The property on which the dance pavilion sat was purchased by the Standard Oil Company in 1921, and in 1922, the dance pavilion at the marina was demolished to make room for oil storage tanks.

In November, 1922 seven men formed a new Island County Fair Association funded by memberships and the fair moved from the marina to Cascade Avenue. Events were held in the grassy area south of the school and exhibits were housed in the school gymnasium.

1922. Exhibits inside the gymnasium. Langley mayor Margaret (Maggie) Mcleod in foreground (Courtesy South Whidbey Historical Society).

In 1923, The Island County Fair Association refined its structure and reincorporated as a Washington state nonprofit organization. Their mission was to manage the fair.

Cars and people at the 1927 Island County Fair in Langley, WA. Exhibits were housed in the unpainted gymnasium (built in 1920) adjacent to the two story school (built in 1915). 

The photo above photo is from 1922 when the Fair (then a County Fair) was held inside the Langley High School Gymnasium (which burned down in 1942).

Standing in front is Mayor Margaret (Maggie) McLeod and to her right is Paul Cunningham, Sr. (long, white hair) who had been a wagonmaster, scout, and sharpshooter, who had settled on Whidbey between Lone Lake and Useless Bay in his retirement.

This history was from a special insert in the 1984 South Whidbey Record.