Get your Fair Food fix

The Clay County Fair & Events Center announces two ways to get your Fair food fix in the month of August – Non-Profit Take Out Tuesdays and Fair Food To Go.

In partnership with Farmers Bank, the Spencer Chamber of Commerce and Spencer Radio Group, the Fair has scheduled a number of Non-Profit Take Out Tuesdays to give Fair food fans an opportunity to help out one local non-profit organization and support their mission each week:

  • Tuesday, August 4 – Hy-Noon Kiwanis (scholarships)
  • August 11 – Spencer Jaycees (Tree of Joy)
  • August 18 – Daybreaker Kiwanis (scholarships, bike helmet mission, Upper Des Moines)


Vendors will be open from 4pm – 7pm each Tuesday.  Complete menu details can be found by following the Fair’s social media or the Fair’s website (

“From the moment the Fair was postponed, we knew our local non-profits would be hurting,” said Fair & Events Center CEO Jeremy Parsons.  “We reached out to all of our non-profits with this opportunity to help them fulfill their mission in this strange time.  While we are announcing our first three ‘Take Out Tuesdays’ now, we hope to expand this and other food opportunities through September.”

Fair Food To Go will be held Friday, August 7 and Saturday, August 8. Fair food enthusiasts will be able to park, walk up, and order a variety of deep-fried and on-a-stick favorites including mini donuts, smoothies, corn dogs, tenderloins, deep fried pickles, turkey legs, waffles on a stick, shaved ice, tater ribbon fries, and more.

Fair Food To Go will be open both days from 11am – 7pm.  Complete menus and a listing of vendors can be found by following the Fair’s social media or the Fair’s website (

Admission for these events is free. Please use the north Entrance off West 18th St. to enter the grounds for each event. These events are meant to be “to go” or carry out events; restrooms and seating will not be available. All Fair food enthusiasts must follow social distancing guidelines.

“We look forward to welcoming our Fair food fans for these great events through August,” said Parsons.  “A portion of the proceeds from both events will go to support the operations of the Fair & Events Center in a year when the postponement of the Fair leaves us without 75% of our revenue to maintain the fairgrounds and prepare for next year’s Fair.”


2020 Clay County Fair postponed

The Clay County Fair Association announced today that the 2020 edition of “The World’s Greatest County Fair” will not be held and will be postponed to September 11-19, 2021.

The decision, announced following a vote by the Fair Executive Committee, was made amid concerns over the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  After weeks of exploring various options, it became clear that the Fair could not protect the health and safety of fairgoers, staff, volunteers, 4-H/FFA youth, exhibitors, vendors, sponsors, and entertainers during the nine-day event.

As part of the decision, the Fair Association will assist Iowa State University Extension Clay County in developing opportunities for 4-H/FFA youth in 2020.

“The decision to postpone the Fair came with emotion and somewhat disbelief that it was really happening,” said Fair Association Board Chairman Charlie Elser.  “But with lots of input from our partners and staff work, the decision was the right one. It’s time to move forward and think about 2021.”

Below is a full statement from Fair CEO/Manager Jeremy Parsons:

“For the past several weeks, we have gathered information, talked with public health authorities, and dialogued with our partners all in an attempt to fulfill the Fair’s mission of providing a “safe family atmosphere” in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  After exploring all options, the answer is clear.  We simply cannot. The Clay County Fair will not be held in 2020.

The absolute minimum to keep our entire Fair family safe would be following the current public health recommendations of social distancing and increased sanitation.  Unfortunately, we discovered that implementing these measures would have eliminated some of our greatest Fair traditions and made other traditions unrecognizable.  We couldn’t imagine limiting the standing-room-only crowds at the draft horse show or the 4-H beef show.  Fifty percent capacity at our free entertainment tents?  No way.  We didn’t want partially empty exhibit buildings so we could properly socially distance our vendors.  For those who had already purchased reserved Grandstand tickets, we would have been forced to move or refund your seats to keep everyone separate.  We didn’t like the thought of making your family wait in socially distanced lines to enjoy Grandpa’s Barn or the Depot.  

No matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t find a way to give you the entire “World’s Greatest County Fair” experience that you have come to love, expect, and deserve.

While we cannot give you the Fair this year, we are working hard to find safe ways that you can still create blue ribbon memories.  Opportunities for our local 4-H/FFA youth and local non-profits are at the forefront of that attempt, and details will be released in the coming weeks.

Our Fair is just like your home.  A strong foundation is essential for it to be secure.  For the Fair, our foundation is you – our Board, staff, volunteers, 4-H/FFA youth, exhibitors, vendors, sponsors, entertainers, and fairgoers.  This year, however, our foundation is shaky at best.  The Fair and many of our non-profit partners need large groups of volunteers and employees to make the Fair a success.  In a normal year, it is difficult to find the help; this year, it would be nearly impossible. Many people are not comfortable being around crowds for nine consecutive days, and the effect of a possible outbreak that could occur in the middle of the Fair is a risk we are not willing to take.

Also just like your home, the Fair cannot be built in a day.  Our decision must be made now.  While it would be nice to see into the future and know what September would be like in this unprecedented time, we don’t have that luxury.  We must make educated decisions based on what we know today.  Waiting any longer could have damaging effects to our many Fair partners and the Fair itself.  Preparing for the Fair requires financial commitment for many, including us, and we can’t wind up anything that can’t be unwound. 

For more than a century, your unwavering support has made us “The World’s Greatest County Fair” and we cannot thank you enough.  Just like you, we are disappointed that we won’t be together this September.  More than that, we are heartbroken because we know this decision will impact each of you directly, and our community as a whole.  However, while this was a tough decision, it is also the most responsible decision to ensure the safety of our entire Fair family, the community, and the long-term stability of the Fair itself. 

When this is all over, we know that Clay County, northwest Iowa and the entire region will need our Fair more than ever.  And, just as we have done for 103 years, we will be ready.”

For additional information and explanation, including a link to extensive FAQs, please visit

This marks the fifth time in the 103-year history of “The World’s Greatest County Fair” that the Fair will not be held.  From 1942-1945, the Fair was suspended due to World War II.

The 2021 Clay County Fair will be September 11-19.

Clay County Fair wins international recognition

“The World’s Greatest County Fair” lived up to its billing by winning multiple awards and recognitions at the 2019 International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE) Convention held December 1-4 in San Antonio.

The Fair claimed 14 awards this year – the most in its history, including four first-place awards.  (The previous record was 12 awards in 2015 and 2018).

Taking top honors in the Agriculture Awards for “Newly established or evolving program which promotes agriculture to the fair-going public” was the 2019 Fair Ambassador program. The program, which involved Clay County 4-H and FFA students, was designed to reach and educate general fairgoers about agriculture and “Fair life” through social media posts. Ambassadors included Emma Ahrendsen, junior, Sioux Central; Dalayna Brugman, Sioux Central, junior; Erin Frederick, junior, Okoboji; Avarie Knaak, junior, Spencer; Alex Olson, senior, Sioux Central; Skyler Tessum, senior, Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn; Nathan Pullen, senior, Spencer; and Noah Reiman, senior, Spencer.

The Fair also received first place in Agriculture Awards for “Agriculture Communications” highlighting the use of a Facebook group for communication with horse exhibitors instead of traditional communication channels.

In Agriculture Individual Photos, the Fair took top honors in two categories, Horticulture/Crops and Equine. The Horticulture/Crops photo was taken by Judy Hemphill. The winning photo for Equine was taken by Jim Steffens of Steffens Game Day Photography.

The IAFE awards program allows member fairs to enter competitions based on competitive exhibits, agricultural education and communications.  The entries are evaluated and judged by teams of industry leaders. For the awards program, the approximately 1,100 member fairs of the IAFE are split into five categories based on attendance.  The Clay County Fair competes in Division 3, which is limited to fairs across the globe with an attendance of 250,000-500,000.

In addition to the fourteen placings in IAFE award categories, Fair officials were active during the convention through the following recognitions and activities:

  • Dave Simington, current member of the Board of Directors and President from 2005-2017, was awarded the prestigious IAFE Heritage Award on December 2. The Heritage Award recognizes the achievements of outstanding volunteer fair management personnel.
  • Jeremy Parsons, CFE, CEO/Manager, was named second vice chair of the IAFE during the business session on December 4. In his role as second vice chair, Parsons will assist with executive responsibilities associated with the organization in preparation for his role as IAFE chair in 2022.
  • Andrea Wiesenmeyer, marketing and partnerships director, gave two presentations – one focused on the Fair’s new ag ambassador program and one focused on the Fair’s ag communications. She also is a member of the IAFE Advertising, Promotions & Public Relations and Sponsorship Committees.
  • Janet Schutter, commercial exhibits director, is a member of the IAFE Commercial Exhibits and Concessions Committee.
  • Parsons also participated on an international “critical conversation” panel with Washington State Fair CEO Kent Hojem and Royal Adelaide Show (Australia) CEO John Rothwell discussing Fair success metrics.

A complete list of Clay County Fair award placings is as follows:


Category 2 – Technique/procedure/policy developed by Fair management to correct an issue or challenge related to an agricultural program

Clay County Fair entry – 2019 Swine Health Rules

  1. Royal National Show – Ekka (Queensland, Australia)
  2. York Fair (PA)
  3. Clay County Fair (IA)

Category 3 – Newly established or evolving program/exhibit at your fair which promotes agriculture to the fairgoing public

Clay County Fair entry – Ag Ambassadors

  1. Clay County Fair (IA)
  2. Royal National Show – Ekka (Queensland, Australia)
  3. Western Idaho Fair

Category 6 – Unique partnership for an exhibit/promotion/special event/competition showcased at the fair

Clay County Fair entry – ISU Extension Clay County’s “Bite by the Barn” Adult AgCiting program

  1. Missouri State Fair
  2. Royal National Show – Ekka (Queensland, Australia)
  3. Clay County Fair (IA)

Category 8 – Agriculture communications

Clay County Fair entry – Open Class Horse Department Facebook page

  1. Clay County Fair (IA)
  2. Alameda County Fair (CA)
  3. North Dakota State Fair

Category 9 – Agriculture programs video

Clay County Fair entry – Ag Ambassadors introduction video

  1. Royal National Show – Ekka (Queensland, Australia)
  2. Clay County Fair (IA)
  3. Georgia National Fair

Category 10b – Agriculture individual photo: horticulture/Crops

Clay County Fair entry – Family trying to lift giant pumpkin (photo by Judy Hemphill)

  1. Clay County Fair (IA)
  2. Bloomsburg Fair (PA)
  3. Missouri State Fair

Category 10c – Agriculture individual photo: equine

Clay County Fair entry – Chuck wagon races (photo by Jim Steffens)

  1. Clay County Fair (IA)
  2. Royal National Show – Ekka (Queensland, Australia)
  3. Florida State Fair

Category 10d – Agriculture individual photo: rodeo

Clay County Fair entry – Bull Riding Challenge (photo by Jim Steffens)

  1. Georgia National Fair
  2. Missouri State Fair
  3. Clay County Fair (IA)

Category 13 – New or unique animal competition (class or division)

Clay County Fair entry – Open Class Horse Department classes (largest and smallest horse)

  1. Pennsylvania Farm Show
  2. Royal National Show – Ekka (Queensland, Australia)
  3. Clay County Fair (IA)


Category 9b: General display at your fair – photo series

Clay County Fair entry – Balloon Masters (photos by Judy Hemphill)

  1. Royal National Show – Ekka (Queensland, Australia)
  2. Clay County Fair (IA)
  3. Missouri State Fair


Category 5 – Magazine ad

Clay County Fair entry – Okoboji Magazine concert line-up ad

  1. South Carolina State Fair
  2. Missouri State Fair
  3. Clay County Fair (IA)

Category 8 – Printed promotional material

Clay County Fair entry – Daily guides

  1. Royal National Show – Ekka (Queensland, Australia)
  2. Clay County Fair (IA)
  3. Sioux Empire Fair (SD)

Category 17 – Social media/mobile campaign

Clay County Fair entry – 2019 Instagram campaign

  1. Missouri State Fair
  2. Nebraska State Fair
  3. Clay County Fair (IA)


Category 2 – Specific action/campaign used to market your facility

Our entry – Weekly front-page ad campaign in Spencer Daily Reporter

  1. North Dakota State Fair
  2. Clay County Fair (IA)
  3. Mississippi Valley Fair (IA)

About IAFE The IAFE is a voluntary, not-for-profit corporation that serves state, provincial, regional, and county agricultural fairs, shows, exhibitions, and expositions. It currently represents more than 1,100 fairs around the world and more than 900 members from related fields.

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. Known as “The World’s Greatest County Fair” since 1917, the Clay County Fair attracts more than 325,000 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

Foreigner Refund Information

September 9, 2019

Dear Foreigner Ticket Buyer:

Saturday, Sept. 7 was a rare event at the Clay County Fair – a Grandstand concert cancellation.

Due to muddy track conditions that affected stage placement and issues with the stage surface, Foreigner felt that the Grandstand stage was unsafe for the band and stage personnel.

The Fair will be offering concert ticket refunds (less handling & processing fees).

Bottom line – if you purchased your tickets via credit card, you don’t have to do anything.  Your refund will be coming to you automatically.  Refunds will be issued in the following ways:

If you purchased your tickets via credit card before June 10, 2019 – a refund check from the Clay County Fair will be mailed to you prior to October 15.  (Due to online merchant protocols, Midwestix can only reverse charges made within the last three months to the credit card of purchase. Therefore, a check must be issued for transactions processed before June 10th.) 

If you purchased your tickets via credit card after June 10, 2019 – your credit card charges will be reversed before September 23 by Midwestix, the Fair’s ticketing partner.

If you purchased your tickets via check or cash – please mail your Foreigner concert tickets, along with a return address, to Ticket Refund, Clay County Fair, PO Box 527, Spencer, IA 51301 prior to October 15.

The Fair does not offer refunds for gate admission.

For any additional questions that you might have, please contact Midwestix at

I know that for many of you, last night’s concert was going to be your highlight of the Fair – I am sorry that we were unable to deliver.  Hopefully, you were at least able to enjoy some other part of “The World’s Greatest County Fair.”



Jeremy Parsons, CFE


2019 Fair new foods entice stomachs of Fairgoers

Fairgoers to the 2019 Clay County Fair will have 32 new foods to enjoy during their visit Sept. 7-15, including five that have been named as finalists for the fourth edition of the “The World’s Greatest County Fair Food” Contest.

“In our visitor surveys, fairgoers tell us one of the top reasons they attend the Fair is for the food,” said Fair Manager Jeremy Parsons. “This list of unique new foods will only add to our reputation as a nine-day foodie festival.”

“The World’s Greatest County Fair Food” Contest will be judged by a panel of local celebrity judges on Saturday, Sept. 7 at 3:00pm on the Central Park Stage with one vendor taking home the coveted title of “The World’s Greatest County Fair Food.”

The five finalists (and vendors) are as follows:

Sirloin Tips (Bryan’s Concessions) – a bed of mashed red potatoes with just the right amount of secret seasoning topped by a skillet of prepared sirloin tips, grilled onions, peppers, and sautéed mushrooms.

Açaí Bowls (Big Açaí Bowls) – refreshing sorbet topped with banana and granola and then your choice of various toppings (strawberries, mixed berries, peaches, cacao chips, chai seeds, hemp seeds, coconut shavings, almond butter, or honey).

Cowboy Cone (Oak Tree Bar-B-Que) – a two-in-one (dessert and dinner) dish: pulled pork topped with baked beans, coleslaw, and BBQ sauce all inside a waffle cone drizzled with chocolate syrup.

The Iowan (Eat It) – a personal-sized shredded pulled pork and roasted corn flatbread pizza with a BBQ creamy sauce.

Chicken Parmesan Waffle Chix (Waffle Chix, LLC) – a juicy chicken tender and parmesan cheese paired on a skewer and baked inside a seasoned waffle, served with marinara sauce and parmesan on the side.

In addition to “The World’s Greatest County Fair Food” there will again be the “People’s Choice” Award. Fairgoers can sample the five finalists and cast their vote at any of the Fair’s information booths from Saturday, Sept. 7 – Wednesday, Sept. 11. The winner will be announced on Thursday, Sept. 12 during the Fair.

Are you a “Fair Foodie?” New this year, Fairgoers can take the Fair Foodie Challenge – pick up a special Foodie card at any information booth, sample all five of the finalists, turn the Foodie card back in at any information booth and receive a special “Fair Foodie” button and a special gift for completing the challenge.

Beside the five finalists, other new foods at the upcoming Fair include:

Big Pop Popcorn: Bagged and fresh flavored popcorn

Chicken City: Smoked Chicken Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Food Fire Truck: Grilled Cheeses PorkNcheese

Food Fire Truck: Grilled CheeseTurkeyNtomato

Food Fire Truck: Grilled Cheese Spicy BBQ

Gobblestop Turkey Shop, LLC: Smokehouse Lasagna

Gobblestop Turkey Shop, LLC: Breakfast Chimichanga

McCreary’s Creative Catering: Deep-fried Donuts-on-a-stick

Morley’s Maple Syrup: Maple Root Beer

Oak Tree B-B-Q: Cowboy Cone

Pioneer Wagon: Thick Cut Fried Bologna Sandwich

Pioneer Wagon: Rattlesnake Sausage

Pioneer Wagon: Wild Elk Sausage

Pioneer Wagon: Ranch Hand Bacon and Cheese Sandwich

Pioneer Wagon: Cowboy Beans

Spencer Jaycees: Crackle Burger

TnT Concessions: Fried Cheese Ravioli

TnT Concessions: Fried Beef Ravioli

Village Café: Danish Creme Cake

Waffle Chicks: Chicken Parmesan Waffle Chix

Waffle Chicks: Waffle Stix Brownie

Wok-n-Roll: Pot Stickers

Wok-n-Roll: Veggie Fried Rice

Wok-n-Roll: Lo Mien

Wok-n-Roll: Orange Chicken

Wok-n-Roll: Sesame Chicken

Wok-n-Roll: General Tso’s Chicken,

Wok-n-Roll: Sweet and Sour Shrimp

Wok-n-Roll: Chocolate Covered Cheesecake-on-a-stick

Wok-n-Roll: Frozen Black Raspberry Hawaiian Juleps

To find your favorite foods at the 2019 Fair, use the Food Finder at The Food Finder allows you to search and locate your old and new favorite foods by name and vendor location.

CCF Bull Riding Challenge returns to Outdoor Arena at the Fair

An evening of bull riding, as well as many other equine events and Muttin’ Bustin’, will be the featured attractions at the Outdoor Arena during the 2019 Clay County Fair, Sept. 7-15.

“The Outdoor Arena will be filled with entertainment for the entire family all day and into the evenings,” said Fair Manager Jeremy Parsons. “I’m excited about all of the different activities that are scheduled there.”

During the day, the Outdoor Arena will host open class and 4-H/FFA horse shows. Open class western shows (Paint, Appaloosa, Quarter Horse, Pony Halter and Pony Performance) will be Sept. 7-10 before the start of the 4-H/FFA shows on Sept. 10-12. The second weekend of the Fair, Sept. 14-15, will feature both big (draft) and little (miniature) horses in several open class divisions, including miniature, pony and draft driving, and the North American Cart and Six-Horse Hitch Classic Series.

The North American Cart and Six-Horse Hitches will draw a large number of fairgoers on the last Saturday (Sept. 14) and Sunday (Sept. 15) of the Fair. The show will feature a $1,000 prize for the winning six-horse hitch each day.

Besides daily horse shows, special events will also take over the Outdoor Arena.

NBHA Barrel Racing will begin at 6:00pm on Saturday Sept. 7.  This event will have cowgirls from across the upper Midwest competing for the title and $1,500 in added money.

The CCF Bull Riding Challenge, presented by Barnes Rodeo Company, will take place on Sunday, Sept. 8 at 6:30pm.  This professional competition will feature riders from across the Midwest as they attempt to complete an eight second ride atop a bucking bull.

A new event to the Outdoor Arena will be held on Friday, Sept. 13 when Muttin’ Bustin’ returns to the fair on Kids Day (Friday, Sept. 13). Young fairgoers can pretend they are rodeo stars when they attempt to ride a sheep at 11am, 1pm, and 3pm.

That evening, Cowboy Mounted Shooting will take center stage at 6:30pm. This event includes a timed obstacle course in which riders and horses will go through as quickly as possible while shooting at balloons that are placed on top of stakes.

The last Saturday of the Fair, Sept. 14, the Outdoor Arena will host the Ranch Rodeo which includes various ranch style activities, such as roping a calf, sorting cattle, and milking a wild cow. This event will begin at 6:00pm.

Numerous prizes to be given for blue ribbon cooking at the Clay County Fair

Thirty-two different sponsored items for blue ribbon winners and cash prizes are just some of the things waiting for you and your kitchen creations to win in the Oven Products Department at the 2019 Clay County Fair, Sept. 7-15.

Besides classic categories like chocolate chip cookies, pies, and other baked goods, there are several other contests for exhibitors to enter, including the $1,000 Cinnamon Roll Contest. The contest will be held on Monday, Sept. 9 and is sponsored by Farmer’s Savings Bank, Edward Jones, and Asher Motor Company.

In addition to cinnamon rolls, there are twelve other contests during the Fair, including Mrs. Bonser’s Chicken Noodle Soup Contest (Sept. 9), Clay County Pork Producer’s Breakfast Tacos Contest (Sept. 10), Mrs. Grimes’ Vegetarian Bean and Rice Hot Dish Contest (Sept. 10), Clay County Cattlemen’s Shepherd’s Pie Contest (Sept. 11), Meringue, Soft Pies and Desserts, Cheesecakes, Specialty Cakes, and Frosted Layered Cakes (Sept. 12), Janice Nostrom’s Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls Contest (Sept. 12), NW Iowa Beekeeper’s Honey Contest (Sept. 13), Bruce Piper’s Lemon Meringue Pit Contest (Sept. 13), IBBIA Quick and Easy Monkey Bread Contest (Sept. 14), Jim Anderson’s Favorite Quick Bread Contest (Sept. 14), King Arthur Flour’s Contests (Sept. 15), and Del’s Garden Center’s Guacamole Contest (Sept. 15.)

Superintendent Gayle Simons mentioned there will be sampling of Mrs. Bonser’s Noodles from 10:15am – 11:30am on Sunday, Sept. 8. “Everyone is welcome to attend and we are excited to have a tasting open to all Fairgoers,” Simons stated.

The fun will continue with the Signe Kim Lauridsen-Jones’ Memorable Collections Contest, which will have cash prizes totaling $1,000.00. Exhibitors will create an interesting display using pieces that best represent their collection and will also write a short story about their collection specifically looking at when, why, and how their collection started.

Another popular competition at the Clay County Fair is the Canned Goods and Dried Foods Department. This department will feature many of the same classes as previous years, but Simons is very excited for the new entries.

“Canning is getting more popular so we are encouraging everyone to bring in their products,” said Simons. “The products make a beautiful display for the Fairgoers to look at and exhibitors to showcase.” Simons also noted that all exhibitors are welcome to watch the judging process for this department.

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. Although the pre-registration deadline has passed, registration can also occur when entries are accepted at the Creative Living Center during the appropriate entry times which are found in the exhibitor handbooks.

Special Day highlights for the 2019 Clay County Fair

No matter who you are, there is something for everyone at the 2019 Clay County Fair, Sept. 7-15.

“While every day at the Fair is full of fun activities, there are some activities that only happen once on a special day,” said Fair Manager Jeremy Parsons. “However, some activities are scheduled on a special day, which makes each day at the Fair a very unique experience.”

Monday, Sept. 9 is Veteran’s Appreciation Day sponsored by Okoboji Motor Company. The day starts with a parade at 10:00am and a special program to follow at 11:00am. All veterans and active duty military will receive free admission to the Fair, as a thank you for their service to our Nation. In addition, there will be a special patriotic music program at 2:00pm by Glenn Henriksen in the Events Center Ballroom.

On Tuesday, Sept. 10, fairgoers 65 and older can enjoy $6.00 admission on Senior Day. Special activities include a parade of antique tractors, Glenn Henriksen’s “Salute to Seniors” concert, the antique tractor pull, and The Apron Lady.

That night (Sept. 10), Family Night sponsored by the Spencer Chamber of Commerce features free admission for families of all ages after 5:00pm.

Wednesday, Sept. 11 is Disability Awareness Day. The Fair welcomes disabled persons from throughout the region with events planned for them thanks to the Pony Express Riders, GoldStar Amusements, and The Shriners. Persons who have pre-registered for the day can participate in special activities.

The Iowa Corn Growers Association brings Iowa Corn Day on Thursday, Sept. 12 with exhibits and presentations in Central Park showcasing the importance of this crop in Iowa and beyond. The day is also Farmer Appreciation Day presented by CFE, Cooperative Farmers Elevator, and features an Iowa Soybean Association panel discussion and Orion Samuelson presented by DeKalb & Asgrow.

Friday, Sept. 13 is Y100 Kids Day and Iowa Dairy Day. Kids 18 and under are admitted free all day and can buy a special all-day wristband for unlimited rides on the GoldStar Amusements Midway at the price of $25.00 ($22 in advance). Other activities include a pedal tractor pull and Muttin’ Bustin’. Sponsored by the Western Iowa Dairy Alliance, Dairy Day lets fairgoers learn about the importance of the dairy industry in Iowa through different displays and activities at Central Park.

Iowa Lakes Community College and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach present Science Saturday on Sept. 14. All ages can participate in the hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities and experiments in various locations throughout the Fair, including Central Park, Dish Plaza, Centennial Plaza.

The final Sunday of the Fair (Sept. 15) is Last Chance Sunday. On this day admission is half-price ($5.00 for adults), which will give all fairgoers one last day to experience the Fair.

Education and Entertainment add to the Fair fun for all ages

Fun for everyone is always the focus at the Clay County Fair, September 7-15.

The Clay County Fair will once again join Arts on Grand for fairgoers to enjoy fun activities and unique items at the Art Barn during the 2019 Fair. Fair attendees will be able to view working art demonstrations, participate in marking art, and even purchasing outstanding items.

Each day, the Art Barn will host local performers as part of the “Homegrown Talent Series” on the Art Barn Stage at 1:00pm. Performers scheduled include Prarieland Troubadours (Sept. 7), Chris and Allison Oyler (Sept. 8), Jessie James Band (Sept. 9), Robert Johnson (Sept. 10), The House Wrens (Sept. 11), Carter Nath (Sept. 12), DJ Myra Money (Sept. 13), Greg Taylor (Sept. 14), and LD3 (Sept. 15).

The always popular Grandpa’s Barn will include a new edition this year with a free range pasture for the animals to roam during the Fair. Baby animals, growing crops, tractor cab simulators presented by Clay County Farm Bureau, and a milking parlor sponsored by MaxYield will educate fairgoers of all ages.

The Sundholm Log Cabin will bring fun educational opportunities to the Fair with live animals, hands-on activities, and more. Naturalist programs will be held daily at 10:00am and 2:00pm with activities involving, reptiles, amphibians, bison, mammals, turtles and more. There will be a live bald eagle on Monday, Sept. 9 and Friday, Sept. 13 at 11:00am and 1:00pm. The Great Plains Zoomobile will also be at the Fair on Sunday, Sept. 8 and Saturday, Sept. 14 at 1:00pm and 2:00pm. Along with the Zoomobile on Sunday, Sept. 8, there will be an Insect Zoo from 10:00am until 12:00pm.

The Smoky Mountain Central Railroad, one of the largest model train displays in the Midwest, will be enjoyed by all in The Depot. The railroad has been a part of the Fair since 1947.

Livestock entry deadline approaching for 2019 Clay County Fair

The Clay County Fair open class livestock entry deadline is rapidly approaching. All livestock entries for beef cattle, dairy cattle, swine, sheep, and horses are due on Wednesday, August 15, whether this is online, in person, or via mail.

Daily open class livestock shows are a highlight for many fairgoers with an expcted 500 exhibitors who will show more than 2,000 head of livestock in 2019. In addition to the open classes, there are also more than 800 4-H and FFA exhibitors that show at the Fair.

“Livestock competition is a cornerstone of the Fair,” said Fair Manager Jeremy Parsons. “Our hardworking superintendents have made several changes to make the competitions a better experience for the exhibitors and the fairgoers.”

Some of the biggest changes are in the open class dairy show (Sept. 12-13), which is adding open youth shows and showmanship classes for all breeds, along with increased premiums in all classes.

This year, open class horse competitions will feature changes to the horse show schedule (new show times on Saturday Sept. 7 and Saturday, Sept. 14), 29 new classes for Paints, Appaloosas, Quarter Horses and Paints (Sept. 7-9), and several new draft horse classes (Sept. 14-15), including youth draft decorating, youth showmanship, barrel racing, farm equipment, junior driving cart and team, feed team race, and costume class.

The “best of the best” will be judged in the open class beef cattle shows on Sunday, Sept. 15 with the addition of the Supreme Beef Champion selection show.  Check-in times and show times have also been changed for the individual breed shows (Sept. 13-14).

The open class sheep and swine competitions will also see increased premiums for 2019.

Check out the exhibitor handbooks online at or pick one up at the Fair Administrative Offices to find the rules and guidelines to enter your livestock at the Fair. Pre-registration for all animal departments is mandatory and can be completed online, by mail, or in person by August 15.

Enter Blue Ribbon Produce at the 2019 Clay County Fair

Gardeners are encouraged to enter their blue ribbon best in the Fields and Gardens Department at the 2019 Fair.

One of the Fair’s original competitive departments, Fields and Gardens will yet again have another great year of showing. “Through the times of struggle with Mother Nature and all – we are still hopeful for a good turn out on produce and exhibits for Fair,” stated superintendent Jerry Groenewold.

The Fields and Gardens Department will have the Largest Pumpkin Contest, where producers can enter the largest weighing pumpkin from their patch and see who will win the title. Along with this contest, there is also the Best Corn Contest where an exhibitor can bring in their best ten ears of corn to be judged.

Although vegetables are a large portion of the Fields and Gardens Department, there are fruit classes as well. The apple division has a best tray contest where the exhibitor with the best five apples can win the prize. Other fruit categories are plums, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and watermelons.

Entries are not limited to just fruits and vegetables.  There are categories focused on people’s creative skills through the garden scarecrow and yard people contest. This contest is open for all ages and any groups that would like to participate. Other contests within the department not focused around produce are birdhouse gourds and decorative corn with husks.

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 Fields and Gardens Building on Wednesday, Sept. 4 (5pm – 8pm) and Thursday, Sept. 5 (9am – 5pm) with judging scheduled for Friday, Sept. 6.

Tradition and new entertainment to perform on Farmers Bank Stage

The Farmers Bank Stage will present six different acts at the nine-day Clay County Fair, Sept. 7-15.

“The Farmers Bank Stage is a popular spot for many of our fairgoers because of its high-quality entertainment acts,” said Fair Manager Jeremy Parsons. “The tent in southwest corner of the fairgrounds will be the place to be again this year.”

New to the Clay County Fair this year is Thistle & Lace (Sept. 7-9), an acoustic trio that combines spot-on harmonies with different hits from the past 80 years. The group’s fun and friendly personalities along with audience interactions makes them perfect for any song lover and family.

Along with Thistle & Lace will be Sean Emery, a comedian and juggler with circus skills, showmanship, and funny remarks. Emery, who was a Barnum & Bailey and Ringling Bros. circus clown, will make his audiences laugh and ask, “how does he do that?”.

Sept. 10-12, the Farmers Bank Stage will welcome the return of polka to the Fair with the Marv Nissel Band. Along with the polka band will be Tuey, a comic stunt juggler. Tuey goes above and beyond the usual displays of juggling skills as he includes a wide array of manipulations. He runs, throws cups, and wears flaming headgear.

Another new act to the Fair is Noah Sonie, a mentalist and magician will put on a great show for all attendees. Providing an engaging show with subtle humor, Sonie will create an unforgettable show that will leave audiences cheering  from Sept. 13-15.

Forever Elvis will also appear Sept. 13-15, the last weekend of the Fair. A definite Fair favorite, this tribute band will have fairgoers remembering the moves and powerful sounds from the King of Rock ‘N’ Roll.