Alabama State Fairgrounds

The Alabama State Fairgrounds are located in West Birmingham, adjacent to the Five Points West shopping area.

The State Fair Arena and Exposition Building covers a combined total of 110,000 square feet (10,000 m2). The 117-acre (0.47 km2) fairgrounds were acquired by the City of Birmingham in 1947.

For many years, the grounds were home to the Alabama State Fair.[1] The old grandstand (later called the Birmingham International Raceway [BIR]) was home to both automobile and harness racing, as well as shows and concerts (the BIR closed in the late 2000s). The statue of Vulcan, which is now a Birmingham landmark atop Red Mountain, was originally displayed at the Fairgrounds, either whole or in pieces during its construction.[2]

The state fair discontinued regular use of the facility because of poor attendance and high crime in the adjacent neighborhood. The Alabama State Fair Authority went bankrupt, and was dissolved sometime around the year 2001. No state fair has been held on a regular basis since; an effort to revive the state fair again in 2008 took place at the Verizon Wireless Music Center in nearby Pelham. (The "Alabama National Fair" in Montgomery is unrelated.) In 2009 there was an Alabama State Fair.

"Kiddieland," a small amusement park located at the Fairgrounds, was a popular attraction for many years but closed in the early 1990s. A "Mikado" steam locomotive, #4018, which once worked on the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway was displayed on the grounds from 1952 to 2009. It has since been relocated to Sloss Furnaces.

During the civil rights demonstrations of the 1960s, the Fairgrounds were used by Police Commissioner Bull Connor to imprison arrested demonstrators when the city's jails were full.[3]

The Fairgrounds have also been used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a disaster outreach event.[4]

Former Fairgrounds manager Tom Drilias resigned in 1999 following a dispute over unpaid bills at another festival he ran,[5] and was later the subject of an article in the Chicago Tribune reporting a series of legal problems.[6] Birmingham International Raceway (BIR) was located inside the gates of the Fairgrounds; it was demolished in January 2009, to make room for the construction of a natatorium and indoor track and field facility.[7][8]


  1. "Attendance drops by 4,000". Amusement Business. paid access. November 19, 2001. Retrieved 2008-11-07.
  2. Halbfinger, David M. (June 19, 2003). "Birmingham Journal; Restoring a Broken God Of a City Bedeviled". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-11-07.
  3. "MLK Legacy Recalled at Navy Station". Press-Telegram (Long Beach, CA). January 16, 1993. Retrieved 2008-11-07.
  4. "Disaster Outreach Coming to Alabama State Fairgrounds in Birmingham. Fifth Outreach Targets North Central Portion of the State". Federal Emergency Management Agency. Press Release Number: 1605-157. January 10, 2006. Archived from the original on November 8, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-07.
  5. Bice, Daniel (July 24, 1999). "Ex-promoter Drilias quits Alabama position. Court hearing scheduled in Milwaukee Wednesday in Maritime Days case". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 2008-11-07.
  6. "Aide's past casts shadow on fest: Motorcycle weekend planned in Bridgeview". Chicago Tribune (Chicago, IL). April 27, 2006. Retrieved 2008-11-07. [dead link]
  7. Bryant, Joseph D (2008-06-20). "Mayor proposes moving Birmingham International Raceway from Fair Park, providing $1 million to help build new track". Birmingham News. Archived from the original on 2011-06-09. Retrieved 2008-10-16.
  8. Demmons, Doug (2009-01-30). "Demolition begins at BIR". Birmingham News.