The Greater Gulf State Fair has a storied past beginning in 1955 when a group of members of the Mobile Junior Chamber of Commerce, now known as the Mobile Jaycees, incorporated the Greater Gulf State Fair.
They began their new project with the stated purpose: “To promote the civic welfare and betterment of Mobile County, South Alabama, Northwest Florida and Southeast Mississippi, which area collectively is known as the Greater Gulf State, through the promotion and operation of a Greater Gulf State Fair or other like endeavors; to promote, encourage, foster, stimulate and maintain interest in agriculture, labor, industry, recreation, civic affairs, education, scientific research, business, commerce, trade-both foreign and domestic and governmental functions or any other civic function or interest by the exhibition method or otherwise; and to cooperate with other citizens and groups interested in the same or similar objects and purposes."
The Mobile Jaycees also serves as the support body for the Mobile Azalea Trail and the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo. Historically, it had also founded Mobile’s first airport, the Azalea Trail Run, and assisted in the creation of the America’s Junior Miss Program.
For years the Greater Gulf Sate Fair was held at Blakeley Island and eventually held at Ladd Stadium. In its early years, the Greater Gulf State Fair’s stage played host to such rising stars in the entertainment world as young Elvis Presley.
Eventually the Greater Gulf State Fair grew to a size where it needed a permanent location to call home. In 1975, the Greater Gulf State Fair purchased a 90 acre site at the intersection of Cody Road and Zeigler Boulevard in Mobile entirely with proceeds from the operation of the annual fair. This property is affectionally named The Grounds and received a 70 acre extension in 2017. The property boasts a permanent grandstand, indoor facilities with over 2 acres under roof (including multiple ballrooms and the prized multi-purpose Hocklander building).
During the Greater Gulf State Fair’s ten day run, it attracts over 100,000 people to enjoy the entertainment and ride the midway rides. Every year the property turns into “a city unto itself” for 10 days complete with its own power grid, police/medical control center, restaurants, and much more for the annual Greater Gulf State Fair.
The activity on The Grounds is not limited to the 10 days of the annual Greater Gulf State Fair, as they host events of all sizes 365 days a year. The Grounds has the opportunity to host everything from fellow non-profits and their respective events to concerts, balls, and community service projects. In addition, The Grounds and its board, staff, and volunteers put one numerous events from seasonal gun shows to various agricultural events with more variety to come in the upcoming year.