“Camptown Races” was published in 1850 in Foster’s Plantation Melodies (Baltimore: F. D. Benteen; New Orleans: W. T. Mayo, 1850). The Camptown of Foster’s own experience was in Pennsylvania, but a camptown, or tent city, was a temporary workingmen’s accommodation familiar in many parts of the United States, especially along the rapidly expanding railroad network. The rag-tag mix of horses that are racing, and the disorder of the racing conditions at the ramshackle camptown track, provide the fun, with the usual unspoken undercurrent of superiority among the entertained hearers.
Camptown, Pennsylvania hosts an annual 10K cross country foot race called Camptown Races. It’s held the first weekend in September and coincides with the community’s annual Old Home Day celebration. —wikipedia