The Huntsville Fairgrounds

The Huntsville Fairgrounds and John T. Sutliff Memorial Stadium

The HCC owns the Huntsville Fairgrounds which consist of about six acres complete with a shelter house, two horse arenas, two barns, and other buildings. The City of Huntsville, Missouri has had several fairgrounds over the years. The first fairground was south of the intersection of Huntsville Avenue and West Depot Street in Huntsville. It was there that the first Huntsville Fair was held in 1854. Sometime after the Civil War, a new fairground was used that was between where Hornet Lane and Lida Steet are now located in Huntsville. This fairground was out of use by 1910. Following that, Radium Springs Park which was between what is now Water Street and Willow Street in the vicinity of West Carpenter Street was used for large gatherings from about 1910 to 1929. Beginning in 1929, the lowland west of Westran Elementary School became a fairground. This fairground was owned by the Huntsville High School which had originally intended it for an athletic complex. In 1933 a horse arena was dedicated there, and named Rutherford Stadium for Hayden L. Rutherford. It was also there that the first Huntsville Horse Show was held that same year. This fairground remained in use for twenty years or more. Several Huntsville Fall Fairs were held there, as well as the Huntsville Horse Show, tractor pulls, and livestock shows. At one point many of the activities of the Randolph County Old Settlers Reunion took place there. Over the years the fairground was gradually improved. In 1948, a shelter house was erected, and Sinclair Mining Company donated a house which was to be used for home economics displays.

However, it was reported in the January 24, 1949 edition of the Moberly Monitor-Index that the HCC was looking for a fairground site for the fall fair. Despite this, the Huntsville Fall Fair continued at the old fairgrounds west of the grade school for a few more years. For a few years, the fair was being held at one location ad the horse show at another. Beginning in 1952, the Huntsville Horse Show was being held at the what was then being called the "show grounds." This was the birth of the John T. Sutliff Memorial Stadium. The barns and arena were built the year before. In 1953, the restrooms were built and electrical wiring installed into the barns. In 1954, the grounds of what would become Sutliff Stadium were graded by International Harvester, who at that time had their proving grounds north of Huntsville. Eventually, a baseball field was added, and in 1966, a shelter house was built at the north end of the grounds. Sutliff Stadium was named for John Taylor Sutliff in 1964. A memorial to him, in the northwest corner of the fairground was dedicated on July 6, 1964 at the opening of the Huntsville Horse Show. Carl Carter of Stevenson Memorials, a firm once located in Moberly made the granite memorial. As an HCC member, John T. Sutliff was active with the Huntsville Horse Show, and instrumental in its beginnings in 1932. He was an announcer for horse shows throughout Missouri including the one at the Missouri State Fair.

For many years, many festivals were held at Sutliff Stadium including the Randolph County Old Settlers Reunion and Fall Fair, the Randolph County Flywheel Reunion, and the Randolph County Fair. However, in recent years it had fallen into disuse. So in 2015, an effort was made to bring Sutliff Stadium back to its former glory. The shelter house was repaired and painted, the grounds cleared of trash, the bathrooms were repaired, and the old baseball field was torn down. These are only the beginning of a list of improvements for the fairgrounds. Long range goals are to add playground equipment, more lighting, and perhaps eventually a multi-use building. The fairgrounds are available to lease for a multitude of uses.