Ralph Blank, Jr. recalls the days when the fair was held at John Prince Park. “It wasn’t elaborate, everything in tents, the exhibits weren’t worth writing home about. Our biggest industry was Glades Agriculture, which was far more diversified in those days. Included were vegetables, cattle, cloth fibers, and relatively little sugar cane, because of the U.S.. Sugar Quotes and Cuban imports.”
“The whole thing was pretty Mickey Mouse,” he added.
During the early fifties the fair bounced between the airport, John Prince Park and the Palm Beach Speedway.”
At first, on December 14, 1955 the Board of County Commissioners deed approximately 15 acres of land in John Prince Park as a permanent fairgrounds site. After two years at this site, misfortunes struck again and commissioners asked the Fair not to build and permanent structures on the land as it might be needed for a college.
As compensation, the Commissioner’s deeded to the new Palm Beach County Expositions, Inc. 105 acres adjoining the Palm Beach Speedway. This land became the home of the Fair and every fair has been held there since that time. In 1957 a $100,000 bond issue enabled the fair to purchase the Palm Beach Speedway and the adjoining land.
Off-again, on-again, and bounced all over Town, the Fair landed in a heap on a cow pasture, way out West on Southern Boulevard. Home at last.
Over the years the Fair had gone through a number of transformations, depending on the needs of the time. Now the good old gypsy, once a year tent show days were over. All of a sudden the Fair had to deal with property, deeds, chattels, assessments, titles, taxes, and capital improvements. It was a different, far more complicated situation.
Eliot Kleinberg took a look back at the history of the South Florida Fair in a 2002 Post Time column: "It later added 10 exhibit halls, the 40,000 square-foot Expo Hall, an adjacent 70,000 square-foot hall, Yesteryear Village, a paved midway and concourse areas. The Coral Sky – later Mars – Amphitheatre, capacity 20,000, opened in 1995. The fair’s budget has gone from about $50,000 in 1957 to about $8 million now."
As they have, since 1912, highly competent, public spirited individuals stepped forward and volunteered their time and energies to help guide the Fair over the new course, and into a more challenging future.