Town and Country Innovation celebrates fifth year in 2019

The Town and Country Innovation Show will celebrate its fifth year of competition at the 2019 Clay County Fair, Sept. 7-15.

The Fair’s newest competitive department was started by Karen Schwaller of Milford, who got the idea from watching her family thumb through the “Successful Farming” magazine, specifically, watching them devour the page headlined as “All Around the Farm.” The page features inventions or adaptations by farmers for tools or equipment used around the farm.

After three successful years, the department changed its name to “Town and Country Innovation Show” to incorporate opportunities for more people to exhibit their creations.

“We’ve had so many creative ‘projects’ in the past four years,” said Superintendent Karen Schwaller. “In our youth division alone it’s been amazing to see the projects that young minds have created, including a home-made tool ‘handy holder’, a home-made mouse trap, a yard drag made from feeder house chain from a combine, and a working windmill that created electricity.”

“With the new name of our department, entries can come from anyone regardless of whether they live on the farm or in town, and entries can be anything that is invented or adapted for use for any purpose, in town or on the farm,” said Schwaller. “This competition is literally open to everyone with a mind to invent something or improve on something they are already using, regardless of where they are using it.”

Entries can be anything from a simple improvement to an everyday tool or piece of equipment on the farm or in the house, to a brand new invention that can be used inside or outside, in town, on the farm, on vacation, etc. Some examples of past entries include a garden hose adapter, a flower planter made out of an old school desk, a calf catcher, and a work-table made from a cable spool.

“Entries don’t have to look brand new,” Schwaller said. “Part of our judging criteria is appearance, but something that functions well and is very creative might fare better than something that looks shiny and new, but isn’t as creative.”

The “Bucket of Junk Challenge,” which focuses on being innovative and resourceful with a five-gallon bucket of identifiable junk, will return again this year. “This category is especially fun to see, with the exhibitor bringing their own junk from around the farm or house to life,” said Schwaller. “We had some very creative ideas on exhibit last year.”

“Entrants can win $100 for first place in any of these categories, so whatever they enter, it could be worth at least that much in a payout.”

The Town and Country Innovation Show exhibits are judged on workmanship, usefulness, appearance, design and creativity. They also have one “Best Safety Award” and one “Most Creative Use of Resources Award.”

There are no entry fees and exhibitors also do not need to be residents of Clay County. New exhibitors are especially encouraged to enter their creations at the Fair, but return exhibitors are welcomed back as well. Divisions include small and large exhibits for for youth and adults. A group project division is also part of the competition, with entries created by any group of people who work together on a project.

Check out the exhibitor handbook online at or pick one up at the Fair Administrative Offices to find the rules and guidelines to enter your work at the Fair. Pre-registration for all exhibits is encouraged and can be completed online, by mail, or in person by August 15. For those who choose not to pre-register, registration can also occur when entries are accepted at the Ag Marketplace on Thursday, Sept. 5 from 4:00pm-6:00pm, unless an appointment has been made.