The Fairbury Fair Corporation as we know it today was originally formed in January 1876 as The Fairbury Union Agricultural Board. They purchased a 21-acre tract south of town as a location to host the first Fairbury Fair which was held in 1877 on the newly purchased fairgrounds.
The Fairbury Fair continued to prosper and in 1903 the board constructed a large covered grandstand structure out of cypress trees on the property. It appears as though horse racing was the main attraction for the fairgoers until around 1916 when the fairboard decided to make some improvements to the facilities and started hosting a few amateur auto races.
The American Legion John Joda Post 54 was chartered with the National American Legion on July 18, 1919. The post was officially incorporated by the state of Illinois as a nonprofit on November 22, 1920.
The popularity of auto racing in the 1920’s was fast becoming the main event at nearly all fairgrounds across the county. Records show the first races as part of the annual Fairbury Fair were held in 1922. The purses at Fairbury were second to none on the fair circuit, which in the coming years would attract the top names with huge crowds. The fair would continue to prosper for several years until around late 1935 and into 1936 when they started to develop some financial shortfalls.
With the fair in financial difficulties and broke, in 1936 the American Legion John Joda post 54 adopted a resolution to purchase the fair property for $6,350 and took control of the grounds and the fair in 1937. The American Legion John Joda Post 54 to this day still oversees the overall operation of the Fairbury Fair Corporation and the management of the fair.
The current Fairbury Fair Corporation was incorporated on February 17, 1939 to operate a county fair within Livingston County, Illinois, as an agricultural fair for the advancement and improvement of livestock and agricultural products and methods. The Legion and Fairboard moved the racing from the former half mile flat harness racing track to the current banked smaller track during the offseason between 1945 and 1946 seasons.
The fairgrounds and the speedway have gone through several phases of major improvement, the first being in 1945 and then again in 1990. The Legion and the Fairboard decided to invest nearly a half million dollars to redo the track to its current size and shape in 1990. They invested hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to enlarge the racing surface. This decision has proven to be one of the best decisions they have ever made. The speedway has continuously made improvements since that time. In 2017, another nearly half million dollars was invested in the facility with all new bathrooms on the north and south side of the fairgrounds property, new safety catch fence, as well as all new aluminum bleachers on the northeast side of the speedway.
At the end of the 2018 racing and fair season, it was voted on by the John Joda Legion Post 54 to sell off the assets and get out of the race promoting business due in part to the declining legion membership. The Legion was able to secure a deal with Fairbury resident and promoter Matt Curl to purchase the assets and continue the rich tradition of racing at the fairgrounds. Matt has also entered into a lifetime lease agreement with the Fairbury Fair Corporation to provide a home for The Fairbury Fair to continue every year as long as the fair can remain viable.