Since 1871 the Rural Association of Uruguay strides towards the future. While not stopping on our tracks, we wish to look back in order to celebrate our past and to portray this institution’s work and its decisive importance in agricultural development as well as in the development of the country.
Our Association was set up in the wake of the “Revolution of the Spears”. Nobody even imagined then that this newly established country would suffer three decades of civilian strife in order to find the political and ideological balance to live in peace, all citizens together under one flag and under the shared ideals of justice, law and freedom.
The discrepancies of strong-willed men of character and fortitude were left behind for higher ideals, those were our founding fathers answering the calling of vocation and the vision of the future of the country undoubtedly based in agriculture/livestock.
As an Association, we were established to defend and support the interests of the agricultural production and complementary and derivative industries, the advancement of rural workers on every level: human, ethical, cultural and economic, unity and harmony among those dedicated to agriculture as well as the defense of the environment and of agricultural work.
Our task is endless and even today we are struggling, always searching, always trying to climb up the hill. Such a powerful journey cannot be achieved without being intimately involved in the growth and development of the country itself.
Therefore, our history is the history of our country whether we want it or not.
All the while, our Institution is going forward, marching towards the sunlight of progress and well-being for all Uruguayans, even though other people are at the helm, they are driven by the same ideals and desire for the development of farming, which ultimately means the development of our homeland.
Mr. Domingo Ordoñana, its founding father and ideologue was President between 1881 and 1884. After 10 years of existence, the Institution showed considerable achievements and a well-established influence that was only used for the improvement of the rural country.
Driven by their enthusiasm Ordoñana and his fellow Board members succeeded in organizing the first National Rural Fair. On June 1883 it was decided to go ahead anyway in spite of the fact that they could count only on the resources of the Association.
Emiliano Ponce de Leon former President of the Association provided a large space in front of Artola Square where they built a large pavilion and several warehouses divided in to boxes.
Over the nine days it remained open, a large crowd of people from Montevideo could appreciate, some of them for the first time, a selection of the country’s production. This was the beginning of what was to become a traditional yearly event.
During the third National Rural Fair, the Rural Association seized the opportunity that numerous producers were in attendance and they decided to undertake another forward thinking project: the First Livestock- Agricultural Congress. The main topics were: rural economy, rural education and colonization, bovine, ovine and horse farming; administrative reforms of rural interest; rural loans; viticulture; forestry and pastures; organization of cattle genealogical records, livestock/agricultural statistics; rural roads; agricultural property registry; legislation and rural policies.
Those meetings have been integrated and organized since 1902 and they have been called Rural Congress.
The National Rural Fair in the following years took place in the countryside, for instance in Mercedes and Paysandu (both in 1899), Durazno (1900), Melo (1901 and 1902). They were organized by their respective Rural Societies, which were being established in every capital town of each province. The Rural Association of Uruguay, sponsored all these events, but warned that the organization should be standardized in order to ensure uniformity and guarantee its reliability and the aims of encouragement of rural improvement.
To this effect in 1901 a special meeting of the Associations of Exhibitors was summoned and compulsory regulations were approved for admission, classification and prize awards to the specimens exhibited.
Since 1908 the National Rural Fair taking place in Montevideo has become a permanent event. In 1912 the Rural Association of Uruguay was granted control over all future exhibitions by the government under President Jose Batlle y Ordoñez.
The Grand National Rural Fair and Exhibition inaugurated on August 25th 1913 took place in the newly inaugurated venue of the “Rural del Prado”, where they have been taking place yearly until the present time.