Originally organized in 1980 as the “Vero Beach Firefighters County Fair”, our event has grown from a 6 day program which ran from April 15–20, 1980 at the Vero Beach Airport, to the present 10 days of family fun. The first General Manager of the fair was Fire Lieutenant Bill Tripp. Bill served in that position until 1988 when Fire Lieutenant Joe Earman Jr. took the reigns and operated the event until 1995. In 1996 Fire Lieutenant Toby Turner then stepped up and performed the General Manager’s roll for 19 years. Since 2015, Fire Department Lieutenant Wayne Howard serves as the General Manager and operates with an annual budget in excess of $250,000.
In 1985, Indian River County set aside land to be used as a permanent site for the County Fair. This present location of 7955 58th Avenue has 45 acres of fenced area and 30 acres for parking. It serves the county, not only by leasing to the firefighters’ for the fairs operation, but the county uses the grounds and its facilities to host other events as well as leasing them to other organizations or clubs. The site also serves as an emergency staging point for disaster relief efforts.
In 1986, the Indian River County Commission asked the firefighters to submit an application for funds with the State of Florida to assist in future improvements to the fairgrounds. So then, was the “Indian River County Fair Association” chartered. Following guidelines set aside by the state of Florida under state statute 616, this association and Indian River County receive funds to construct and improve the facilities on this property.
The Indian River County Fair Association, subcontracts with the Vero Beach Firefighters Association to operate their annual event. The Indian River County Fair Association has a 25 member Board who along with the general manager and the 11-committee directors are responsible for the fairs daily operation. The fair pays Indian River County 10% of its gross revenue for use of the facilities. Net proceeds benefit various local charities.
The fairground continues to develop in a forward progress. There have been updates to the electrical stations, agricultural building and 4-H parking areas as well as the campground. Monies from lessors of the property go back into the facilities so improvements can continue. In 2008, the Indian River County Commission approved a request to fund a master plan for the fairgrounds. This master site plan will provide the information needed to allow the facilities and grounds to grow at an appropriate pace. Site infrastructure, campground facilities, patron safety, vehicle parking, pedestrian entry points, restrooms, midway operations and roadway concerns will be addressed. HOWEVER; this plan was pulled from funding when the economic conditions worsened in this county. The fair board and its directors continue to pursue its re-instatement for public viewing and discussion during our current fair season.
With an average attendance of 50,000 patrons, the Firefighters’ Indian River County Fair offers an environment of family fun and entertainment. While showcasing the youth of Indian River County in livestock and agriculture, we also provide a sense of self-esteem to every child. The feeling, which arises from accomplishing something and being rewarded for that accomplishment is very satisfying; we believe hundreds of youth over the years have come away from the fair “as winners”.
The Firefighters’ Indian River County Fair is proud to be associated with and members of; the International Association of Fairs, the Florida Federation of Fairs, the Florida Festivals & Events Association, the Outdoor Amusement Business Association as well as our local Chamber of Commerce.
Our organization will continue to provide the finest in wholesome family entertainment while showcasing local talent, agriculture, local livestock, commercial and educational information to the citizens of this county.