By the 1880's the fair day had developed another feature as they evolved into a centre for the hiring of labour. Since fairs were usually held in May and November these fairs would provide much needed labour for the two heaviest seasons in the farming calendar.
Young people, of an age to work, were brought to the market usually by their parents and hired to a local farmer for a small financial return. Often these young people were subjected to the humiliating practice of a physical inspection within the marketplace and in view of family and neighbours. This practice continued into the 1930's but disintegrated thereafter due in part to the increased mechanisation of farming practice but also because of laws providing benefits for the unemployed and child protection laws ensuring compulsory education.
The disappearance of the hiring fair led to the disappearance of the fair day in the social calendar of many larger commercial centres. Markethill, however, has remained true to this heritage and continues to convene a fair on the third Saturday each August.
Pupils of Mountnorris Primary School (1999) describe hiring fairs:
"The girls washed and made butter and cleaned the house of the farmer
that they worked for." (Cathy Kenning)
"The boys milked the cows and fed the chickens" (Hannah Simms)
"At the hiring fair people entertained you with music." (Matthew McComb)
"At the hiring fair children as young as 7 years old got hired to do farm work." (Louise Henry)
"At the hiring fair the farmers checked the children's bones and muscles to see if they had strength." (Jenna Ross)
"The hiring fair was where people went to get hired to do farm work or house work." (Adele Gass)
"At the hiring fair the farmers checked the children's muscles." (Andrew Cromie)
"At the hiring fair people would entertain you and play music." (Daniel Halliday)
"At the hiring fair they sold animals as well as people." (Alasdair Flemming)
"People in Mountnorris would've went to Newtownhamilton Fair to be hired." (Adam Brown)