Celebrating 107 Years of Community.
The Buncombe County District Agricultural Fair was established in 1913 by E.W. Pearson to celebrate the homegrown harvest and handmade products of the African American agricultural community. The fair was held annually from 1916 to 1947 in Pearson Park in West Asheville. The fair grew in size and numbers to become a regional event, drawing as many as 10,000 people of all races, until its end in 1947. The last event was said to draw 5,000 attendees, both black and white.
The Agriculture Fair was revived in 2012 by the Burton Street Community Association to celebrate the upstanding citizens of the past who maintained the vibrant spirit of the Burton Street neighborhood. The Burton Street Agricultural Fair is held annually at the Burton Street Community Center Park.
This year’s fair takes place on Saturday, September 21, 2019 from 12 noon until 6 p.m. This is a free, family-friendly event featuring food, arts & crafts, children’s activities, live entertainment, and much more!
E.W. Pearson Sr.
To truly understand the historical significance of the Burton Street community, one must become familiar with a very distinguished and visionary man: E.W. Pearson, Sr.
Pearson was born in 1872 in Glen Alpine, NC. After serving as a Buffalo Soldier in the U.S. Army, Pearson moved to Asheville in 1906 where he used his real estate training from his studies in Chicago to create subdivisions for African Americans in West Asheville, including the Burton Street neighborhood. Mr. Pearson’s vision to make home ownership possible for African Americans allowed the community to rise above the challenges of the Jim Crow period.
Black Mayor of West Asheville
In addition to his numerous real estate developments, Pearson established many businesses, organizations, and community resources in West Asheville, including Pearson Real Estate, Mountain City Mutual Insurance Company, Grocery and Confectionary Company, and Pearson Park.
Pearson made many other contributions to the city of Asheville, Buncombe County, and beyond. He organized Asheville’s first African American semi-pro baseball team, the Asheville Royal Giants (1916), which played at Pearson Park in West Asheville. Pearson founded the area’s first regional Agricultural Fair (1913-1947), and organized North Carolina’s first chapter of the NAACP (1933), as well as several fraternal and other civic groups.
His tireless work to improve the quality of life for African Americans ultimately garnered him the title of “Black Mayor of West Asheville.” Pearson died in 1946 in Asheville at the age of 74.
Burton Street Community Center, 134 Burton Street, West Asheville.