On July 25, 2019, in Minot, North Dakota, the U.S. Postal Service will issue the State and County Fairs stamps in four designs, in a pressure-sensitive adhesive pane of 20 stamps (Item 479300). These FOREVER stamps pay the standard domestic first-class letter rate (55¢ at the date of issue), and also go on sale nationwide July 25. According to the USPS, the State and County Fairs pane of 20 stamps may not be split and the stamps may not be sold individually.
The North Dakota State Fair runs July 19-26 in Minot, North Dakota, as it has since 1922, missing only one season due to the 2011 Souris River flood.
Inspired by more modest county fairs, U.S. state fairs began in the 19th century to promote and celebrate state agriculture through competitive exhibitions of livestock and displays of farm products. As America changed from a predominantly agrarian to an industrial society in the 20th and early 21st centuries, modern state fairs have expanded to include carnival amusement rides and games on the midway, displays of industrial products, horse and automobile racing, and entertainment such as musical concerts, tractor pulls and air and water shows and events.
The first U.S. state fair was held in 1841 in Syracuse, New York, and annually ever since. The second in Detroit, Michigan, ran from 1849 until 2009. The largest state fair attendance is found in Texas, attracting an estimated 2,000,000 people each year. Largest average daily attendance is at the Minnesota State Fair in Minneapolis, averaging just under 200,000 people per day.
Printed in 20-stamp panes, five strips of these four whimsical se-tenant stamps celebrate the fun of the nation’s state and county fairs. The stamps were designed to work together as a panorama of fair activities, while each stamp also works as an individual picture. The art director was Greg Breeding, and Mike Ryan designed the stamps with original art by Mick Wiggins.
In the leftmost stamp, farmers in bib-overalls unload produce behind a white fence, as a tractor passes below a “FAIR GROUNDS” banner. In the stamp to its right, a girl cradling a chicken sits atop the same fence, with a nearby goat and pig also representing livestock competition, while a Ferris wheel and a merry-go-round from the carnival add action to the right side of the stamp.
In the third stamp in the strip, a fair-going family admires the farm animals behind the fence while others walk, balloons in hand, toward a concession stand, with other rides in the background. The stamp at far right shows children at a sweets stand buying treats from the vendor. Pennants, banners and bunting tie the scene together in an attractive tableau.
Mid-20th-century U.S. commemoratives hailed the early farming associations that had close ties, as organizers of and exhibitors at most county and early state fairs where the plumpest hens and the largest watermelons vied for top honors. Stamps honoring these organizations included: the 1952 3¢ 4-H Club (Scott 1005) with 6.5 million members, begun in 1903 Ohio, the 1953 3¢ Future Farmers of America (Scott 1024) with 8,630 Chapters in 52 State Associations, founded in 1925 Virginia; and the 1967 5¢ National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry (Scott 1323), established in 1867 shortly after the Civil War. As recently 2005, the National Grange had a membership of 160,000, with organizations in 2,100 communities across 36 states.
County and State Fairs are new on U.S. stamps, but not the rural organizations that gave rise to them, including the 4-H Club (Scott 1004), Future Farmers of America (Scott 1024) and the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry (Scott 1323).
Stamps in this horizontal se-tenant format have been occasional U.S. issues since at least the 1967 Accomplishments in Space issue (Scott 1331–32) in which two 5¢ stamps dramatically portrayed a tethered Gemini 4 astronaut in mid-spacewalk above Earth. More reminiscent of the Fairs stamps and also issued in panes of 20 is the se-tenant strip of four 44¢ Thanksgiving Day Parade commemoratives designed by Howard E. Paine and issued in 2009 (Scott 4417–20).
Combining four stamps with a common theme to create a dramatic tableau was used on this 2009 Thanksgiving Day Parade issue designed by Howard E. Paine (Scott 4420a).
Customers have 120 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. To do so, purchase new stamps at the post office or online at usps.com/shop, affix them to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes and then place them in a larger envelope addressed to:
FDOI — State and County Fairs Stamps
USPS Stamp Fulfillment Services
8300 NE Underground Drive, Suite 300,
Kansas City, MO 64144-9900
After applying the first-day postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. Although there is no charge for the postmark up to a quantity of 50, there is a 5¢ charge for each additional postmark over 50. All orders must be postmarked by November 25, 2019.