2022 Fair sets multiple records

Spencer, Iowa — Increased youth involvement, record fairgoer spending, added exhibitor participation, large crowds, and great weather propelled the 2022 Clay County Fair powered by SMU to new heights, September 10-18.

“When you mix great weather, strong programming, and increased participation together, records will be broken and attendance will increase like it did this year,” said Fair CEO/Manager Jeremy Parsons. “I am grateful and thankful that our 325,585 fairgoers were able to enjoy nine beautiful and safe days.”

Parsons continued that since the return of the Fair after the COVID-19 hiatus in 2020, there has been a noticeable change in fairgoer length of stay.

“Record setting spending by fairgoers in 2021 and 2022 tells us that fairgoers are staying longer at the Fair,” he said. “It was very obvious this year by the crowds after 5:00pm. We have some exciting new opportunities in front of us.”

Parsons continued that the success of the 2022 Clay County Fair can be measured by several metrics, including:

Youth Involvement

·        750 4-H and FFA exhibitors from 46 counties in Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska participated in livestock and human sciences events at the Fair.  Last year, 708 exhibitors from 42 counties participated.

·        Approximately 1,300 third and fourth grade students from 15 regional schools visited the Fair as part of the AgCiting and SciCiting field trip programs coordinated by ISU Extension Clay County.

Fairgoer Spending

·        Preliminary fairgoer spending on food, beverage, specialty concessions, and carnival rides is already an all-time record of $2,833,943.98, breaking the previous record set in 2021.

·        GoldStar Amusements set single-day records for carnival ride revenue eight of the nine days of the Fair, including an all-time single-day record on Saturday, Sept. 17.

Exhibitor Participation

·        466 unique commercial exhibitors, concessionaires, and vendors (up from 456 in 2021) showcased at the Fair. With at least 150 ag-specific exhibitors, the Fair again hosted the largest farm machinery and ag equipment show at any fair in the United States.

·        1,225 exhibitors participated in various open class livestock and non-livestock competitions at the Fair – up 8% compared to 2021.


·        The Grandstand attracted 16,642 fairgoers to multiple stage performances and dirt events. The top two attended events were Dwight Yoakam with special guest Runaway June (3,035) and the Outlaw Truck & Tractor Pull season championships (2,202).

·        Overall Fair attendance totaled 325,585 – a 17.4% increase over 2021. Complete daily attendance numbers can be found at https://claycountyfair.com/about/who-we-are/.

“Perhaps the only disappointment this year was sluggish Grandstand ticket sales,” said Parsons. “There will be several discussions ahead of the 2023 Fair on ways to improve our Grandstand lineup and bring in more top artists for fairgoers to enjoy.”

More detailed information on the 2022 Clay County Fair powered by SMU will be made available at the Clay County Fair Association’s annual meeting on October 25. Lifetime memberships to the Fair Association are available for $100. Call (712) 580-3000 for more information.

About The Clay County Fair & Events Center Rooted in Tradition, the Clay County Fair and Events Center is a year-round facility that annually hosts more than 300 events, including its signature event, the Clay County Fair powered by SMU. Known as “The World’s Greatest County Fair” since 1917, the Fair attracts more than 300,000 guests each September for nine days of world-class entertainment, competition, food, fun, and the largest farm machinery show at any fair in the United States. Additional information can be found at claycountyfair.com.