The Mill Creek Valley community of Carthage is located approximately seven miles north of downtown Cincinnati in an area enclosed by the Mill Creek and Interstate 75. Vine St. runs through the heart of the neighborhood giving it an east and west dimension. Settlement in Carthage is traced to Jacob White’s Station, a blockhouse built at the Third Mill Creek Crossing, circa 1790.
Carthage maintained an essentially rural aspect throughout most of the 19th century. Horse racing, particularly harness racing, became a popular local pastime and drew visitors to the area. By mid-century, racing meets became featured events at the Carthage Fair Grounds, a tradition which continued until the late 1960′s.
In 1861, Carthage incorporated and Jonathan Bonnell became the first mayor. By century’s end, Carthage had a settled air, reflected in gas lights, graded roads and a trolley system which tied the community to Cincinnati proper. In 1911, Carthage was formally annexed to the city of Cincinnati.
In 1937 a deaf couple were killed while crossing the street at Seymour and Fairpark by a speeding auto. Father John Harbrecht, the pastor of St. Charles Church, called a meeting of the town to discuss ways of procuring a traffic light here. Of this meeting the civic league was formed with Robert Barnhorn the first president. It has met ever since then.
The Greater Cincinnati Carthage Fair
Smack in the middle of the northern Cincinnati suburb of Carthage sits nearly 30 acres of green space amid a sea of industry and commerce. Fronted by the busy Vine Street thoroughfare and less than a mile from Interstate 75, this oasis is home to the Hamilton County Agricultural Society, producers of the annual Hamilton County Fair.
The Carthage Fair, as it was once known, was founded in the once dominant agricultural community that surrounded Cincinnati. The importance of farming to the area led to the need to pass on ideas of new agricultural techniques and machinery as well as tried-and-true practices handed down from the ages. The Fair was created to meet these needs and to act as the culminating event of the agricultural year, expressing the pride farmers felt in their work.
As industry and the need to bring workers into the area increased, Cincinnati expanded. The Carthage Fair – renamed Hamilton County Fair – changed along with the landscape of the Greater Cincinnati area. Today, it is still a distillation of community pride, though its mission has changed. For in addition to educating future farmers and instilling traditional values of leadership, cooperation and hard work, the Hamilton County Fair also serves to educate an urban population about the importance of agriculture. People living in the city, isolated from the farm lifestyle, come each year by the tens of thousands to learn about the origin of the foods they eat and products they use, thus ensuring that our rich agricultural heritage continues.