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  No Fair, Just Ask Andy Beyer's !     

Barrington Fair AdCome To The Fair

The Great Barrington Fair ran it's first thoroughbred meet in 1940 and ran consecutively till 1983. The races returned for a year in 1991. In 1995 a freak Memorial Day tornado ripped through Great Barrington and did extensive damage to the fairgrounds. In an effort to once again present racing the fairgrounds were rebuilt. In 1997 Great Barrington was again granted race dates, but racing only lasted two years.

Great Barrington was the last stop on the Massachusetts Fair Circuit. It was known for it's scenic setting and was probably the most popular stop on the circuit, at least for the view. The racing was a bit more sketchy!

Belmont of the BerkshiresBelmont of the Berkshires

In his book My Fifty Thousand Dollar Year, writer and analyst Andy Beyer's noted that Great Barrington was the only track that he ever left early. After losing fifteen hundred dollars he had seen enough. Obviously his speed ratings were inaccurate. Around that same time period, PBS did a special on horse race fixing, and a race from Barrington Fair was featured. Even with the occasional larceny I'm sure most people who did attend the fairs wouldn't mind it a bit if they could have their racing back. There was an old saying "all's fair at the fairs".

Around six pm on the afternoon of September 13, 1991, P.T. Pocohontus was the last horse led into the winners circle at the Great Barrington Fair. Twenty something years later the grandstand and track are still intact. They are overgrown and basically unrecognizable, waiting in vein for a day that will never return. If I were a betting man I'd bet on the bulldozer. 

If there was a "Crown Jewel" of the Massachusetts Fair Circuit, Great Barrington would have been it. Although, located in the center of Great Barrington, it had a pastoral feel to it. The backstretch was tree lined, with a couple old weeping willow looking trees towering over the track. Like commercial tracks Great Barrington had both a clubhouse and grandstand area. Both had a capacity of around 1,500 people. Unlike Northampton, where you would swear you were in a drainage tunnel going to the infield, Great Barrington had stairs at both ends with a rail to separate traffic. Unlike Andy Beyer's, most of us knew this wasn't the place to bring the mortgage money, but it was a great place to enjoy the first part of Autumn.

If you click the Flickr logo you can view Great Barrington as it is today, it's kind of pasture-ral these days.