How to tag fairgrounds

I already wrote about the inconsistent tagging of fairgrounds in the us in us OSMUS Slack server, but thought I’d ask here as well in hope of finding some sort of consensus.

Fairgrounds, in the US, are permanent facilities designed to host state and county fairs, types of agricultural shows: “a public event exhibiting the equipment, animals, sports and recreation associated with agriculture and animal husbandry.” These facilities will often include exhibition halls, barns for competition animals, sports stadiums, as well as areas to set up temporary stalls, carnival games, and attractions. Oftentimes other events may be held on the fairgrounds in other parts of the year such as exhibitions, sports events, or community events.

Currently these tend to be tagged as leisure=park, landuse=recreation_ground, or occasionally tourism=theme_park (probably because of the temporary carnival rides), but none of these quite seem right, and (in my opinion) this seems to be a more rural version of an exhibition center (amenity=exhibition_centre).

I’m happy to hear any feedback.

Agreed, that is how I would also understand and tag it, unless it is simply a patch of grass without any further facility.

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I had the same question a few days ago and it looks like user Geozeisig answered by creating this wiki entry
According to the taginfo box on the wiki page it’s already been used ~120 times.

I have no idea whether it’s been discussed anywhere, I simply point to existing wiki page

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I do not remember any discussion.
And it’s a very bad idea to tag this as landuse.

Ah, I haven’t seen that page for landuse=fairground before since it is so new. I would say that that the example picture looks more like just a grassy area in a park (and I wouldn’t even tag it)
Compare this to something like the Wisconsin State Fair Park.

I also found the tag recreation_ground=showground (with similarly low usage). This appears to be the same thing as a fairground (in US English), so perhaps a showground would be the better term in any case. I’m not a fan of it requiring landuse=recreation_ground, given that a show/fairground is not “An open space for general recreation, which often includes formal or informal pitches, nets and other recreation equipment or infrastructure.”

It is the usual OSM wiki mess … :roll_eyes:

There is landuse=recreation_ground + recreation_ground=showground. I agree to @1998alexkane that “showground” in general would be a good tag for an area which is free of any permanent installation, just a grassy area where all kinds of events take place. We do have similar areas in rural Germany where every village has a so called “Festwiese” (=festival ground) which is bare of any permanent facility.
I also agree to

The combination of landuse=recreation_ground + recreation_ground=showground is not a good idea as these are 2 very different objects imho.

Now there is another new wiki site for landuse=fairground which is a double to showground.

Again there is leisure=festival_ground being a double to amenity=festival_ground whereas the “festival ground” aspect is part of the before mentioned showground already.

Finally only 2 tags are required imho:

  • for fairgrounds/showgrounds with permanent facilities as described in the OP and I would still use amenity=exhibition_centre for these
  • for fairgrounds/showgrounds without permanent facilities - just some grassy area to provide space for different temporary installations and I would favour “showground” for these

I would not see any reason why the value “showground” should not come along with the key “landuse” as this is exactly what the piece of land is used for. Better then the combination with “recreation_ground” anyhow.

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Agreed. The term “recreation ground” already causes so much confusion among American English speakers without it being overloaded in this manner. Memorably, it’s been said that landuse=recreation_ground is a space for general frolicking. Besides, fairgrounds are run like amusement parks in the sense that access is restricted to event-goers and admission is usually not free.

These days in the U.S., there are fewer and fewer fairgrounds that fit the classic mold. They used to be built primarily for horse racing (or rodeos) and agricultural fairs, but nowadays in many states, the horse racing function has become secondary to slot machines, and the fairs are more of a food festival than a showcase of giant pigs and pumpkins. My county’s fairgrounds, which is in an urban area, mostly rents out its space to edgier sports like karting and paintball, as well as to used car dealerships, and more recently has been using the exhibition halls as a testing and vaccination center.

My tagging of fairgrounds has shifted over the years. Originally I used leisure=park, sometimes with tourism=attraction. But once it became clear that leisure=sports_centre could be used on a non-building for something other than an indoor arena, I used that tag instead, with sport=horse_racing if applicable. Refining sports_centre=* would make a lot more sense to me than refining recreation_ground=*.

Regardless, the exhibition halls should be tagged as POIs in their own right. Except during a county fair, the exhibition hall is often rented out for weddings, conferences, and other social events, just like any amenity=events_venue or amenity=exhibition_centre. Sometimes they’re managed by a different company than the racetrack and go by a different name.

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I would agree. I would think that something like the famous Theresienwiese (the Oktoberfest grounds) would be able to fit this as well (currently it is landuse=village_green)

I’m not certain how typical it is for fairgrounds to be mostly “sport oriented” enough to be leisure=sports_centre as a rule but I think that many fairgrounds may contain some leisure=stadium (e.g. the Warner Coliseum or leisure=sports_centre (e.g. the Santa Clara Paintball, as it already is tagged). At least it’s somewhat confusing to see the whole fairgrounds labeled as a horse racing facility.

Almost every county fairgrounds in Indiana or Ohio was built primarily for horse racing, with the track naturally taking up a huge amount of space. This isn’t strictly a Midwestern thing: the fairgrounds in New Orleans is similarly built around a race track. Santa Clara County’s used to have a race track too, but it was removed due to disuse as the county grew more urban. Neighboring San Mateo County turned its race track over to housing developers a few years ago.

But I fully agree that not every fairgrounds must be about horse racing. My point is that they typically serve two purposes: event rentals and gambling on the one hand, and sporting events on the other. Taking the annual county fair as an exception, the events and gambling are indoors while the sporting events are outdoors. I’m inclined to treat the fairgrounds as a “campus” for sports that contains buildings for other purposes.

@Minh_Nguyen I think the guidance (presumably for a wiki page) would be that “fairground” is a nebulous term and we should tag these facilities according to their largest function (whatever takes up the most space? most events hosted?)

  1. leisure=sports_centre for facilities which are primarily sports oriented
  2. amenity=exhibition_centre for facilities dominated by expo halls (including areas for accommodating show animals
  3. Some new “showground” tag combination for empty areas maintained for events with temporary tents, stalls, etc.

Yes, if we’re going to split up “fairground” into multiple concepts, then this is a gap that we’d need to fill, but not just with what people normally think of as a county fairground:

I’m inclined to treat the fairgrounds as a “campus” for sports that contains buildings for other purposes.

I would not have thought about sports for the fairgrounds (if this is the correct term for it) in my hometown, a 90000 people town in Germany. Throughout the year it is mostly unused, but there are a few events taking place, like a circus camping there for some week, or a summer fair with amusement rides, or a trade fair, sometimes a fleamarket, antique furniture market and similar stuff. There is no infrastructure (there are parkings, water and electricity, and there’s a bus stop, but no buildings or fences), and it is located at the border of the town.
The neighbors are several sports centres and a swimming pool, but no sports on these grounds (in German: Festplatz).
Currently it is only tagged as place=locality and parking

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Yes, this sounds only tangentially related to the American-style fairgrounds described in the original post, which tend to have plenty of infrastructure. It sounds similar to the miscellaneous festival grounds I mentioned above.

yes, maybe “showgrounds” can be agreed on for such as the one I described, because these other fairgrounds you mention are also quite common in Germany, some examples of different kind of fairgrounds with notable infrastructure (exposition halls):

Just that you will not find them in smaller towns. (i.e. there are only few of these, but they are well known and important)


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This proposal would cover the less built-up showgrounds:

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