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Temporary market where buyers and sellers gather to transact business. Fairs are held at regular intervals, generally at the same location and time of year. An important form of commerce before the Industrial Revolution, fairs solved the problem of distribution and made possible the demonstration of arts and crafts and the sale and barter of goods. They were a fixture of the Roman Empire and medieval Europe, where they were held at major caravan crossroads and near religious festivals. The rules of the fairs eventually became the basis of European business law. Fairs began to die out as cities grew larger and transportation networks became more extensive, though some continued to exist as religious festivals or recreational events. County, agricultural, and livestock fairs are still held in many countries. The trade fair or trade show, often an international event in which exhibitors from one industry display their goods, gained popularity in the 20th century.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on fair, visit Britannica.com.