It all started in 1947 in Edinburgh, Scotland, as an alternative festival that played concurrently with the Edinburgh International Festival. Though not invited to participate, groups of actors, musicians, and the like performed at various venues on the fringe of the EIF. In 1948, Robert Kemp, a local journalist, gave it the name Fringe: "Round the fringe of official Festival drama, there seems to be more private enterprise than before..." (Read more about Fringe history at Wikipedia.)
And so the Fringe as we know it was born. Fringe performing arts festivals can now be found all over the world, with dozens thriving in the United States today.
In the U.S., no one organization or individual owns, controls or regulates the name “Fringe”. There are no national rules for how each individual festivals operate; festival content, finances, and structure vary from city to city. Generally, all festivals are committed to an open forum of expression that minimizes the financial risks for both artists and audiences. Fringes work hard to keep production fees and ticket prices low so that more people can participate in our festivals.