Clay County Fair celebrates another successful year

Spencer, Iowa — With nine near perfect fall days the 2023 Clay County Fair powered by SMU was the perfect get-away location for thousands of fairgoers, Sept. 9-17.

“If you create a memorable experience, they will come.  Even a little rain shower didn’t deter people from attending the Fair,” said Fair CEO/Manager Jerome Hertel.  “For the second year in a row we had over 300,000 in attendance.  Overall attendance was slightly down by 2% at 318,678.”

“More noteworthy is the fact that participation and spending remain at all-time highs,” continued Hertel.   “Youth involvement numbers are up and fairgoers like the large variety of products and services offered at the Fair.  Many fairgoers take the opportunity to do their Christmas shopping at the Fair. The Fair was a great success and we are thankful that so many people enjoyed the Fair this year”

Hertel continued that the success of the 2023 Clay County Fair can be measured by several metrics, including:

Youth Involvement

  • A record 930 4-H and FFA exhibitors from 48 counties in Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska participated in livestock and human sciences events at the Fair. Last year, 750 exhibitors from 46 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 at an all-time record of $3,117,143.18, breaking the previous record set in 2022.
  • GoldStar Amusements set single-day records for carnival ride revenue on the last weekend of the Fair, including an all-time single-day record on Saturday, Sept. 16.

Exhibitor Participation

  • 461 unique commercial exhibitors, concessionaires, and vendors 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.
  • 1,263 exhibitors participated in various open class livestock and non-livestock competitions at the Fair with a combined 10,278 total entries.


  • Grandstand shows attracted 16,097 fairgoers to multiple stage performances and dirt events. The top two attended events were Jo Dee Messina and Diamond Rio on Thursday, Sept. 14 and the Outlaw Truck & Tractor Pull season championships on Sunday, Sept. 17.
  • Overall Fair attendance totaled 318,678 – a 2% decrease from 2022. Complete daily attendance numbers can be found at

More detailed information on the 2023 Clay County Fair powered by SMU will be made available at the Clay County Fair Association’s annual meeting on October 24. 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 Clay County 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