Country Gold Tour to perform at 2019 Clay County Fair

The Clay County Fair announces the Country Gold Tour, starring Leroy Van Dyke, Jimmy Fortune of the Statler Brothers, T. Graham Brown, Steve & Rudy Gatlin, and Moe Bandy, as part of the SRG Concert Series in the Sleep Number Grandstand at the 2019 Clay County Fair on Monday, September 9 at 7:30pm.

“It has become a tradition at the Fair that Monday evening’s Grandstand show is a patriotic salute featuring classic country music,” said Fair Manager Jeremy Parsons.  “It will be an honor to have some of the most decorated artists in country music history on our Grandstand stage.”

The Country Gold Tour, by definition, is a stellar evening featuring renowned classic country music performers who have topped the charts and had massive media exposure. Enjoy them in person as they perform the celebrated Nashville sound that took their music around the world and back including hits like “Auctioneer,” “Walk on By,” “All the Gold in California,” “She Used To Be Somebody’s Baby,” “Elizabeth,” “My Only Love,” “Too Old to Die Young,” “Don’t Go to Strangers,” “Darlene,” and more.

Tickets will go on sale Friday, February 15 at 10:00am. Prices are $27 (general admission stage front seating), $27 (reserved Grandstand seating), and $22 (general admission bleacher seating). Tickets will be available online at, by phone at 515-244-2771, or in person at the Events Center Box Office. There will be no additional fees applied to any of these purchase methods.

Please note Grandstand guest services changes for 2019. Bag checks will be implemented at all Grandstand events at the 2019 Fair. The following items will be prohibited: weapons/firearms, alcoholic beverages not provided by the Fair & Events Center, air horns/whistles or other noisemakers, helium-filled balloons, glitter/confetti, glass bottles, fireworks and illegal substances.

The Fair will also sell beer at selected Grandstand events during the 2019 Fair.

Clay County Fair announces Foreigner

The Clay County Fair announces a night with Foreigner as part of the SRG Concert Series in the Sleep Number Grandstand at the 2019 Clay County Fair on Saturday, September 7 at 7:30pm.

“One of the greatest rock acts of all time will be a perfect start to the 2019 Fair,” said Fair Manager Jeremy Parsons. “I know this high energy show will have the crowd singing along the whole time.”

With ten multi-platinum albums and sixteen Top 30 hits, Foreigner is universally hailed as one of the most popular rock acts in the world with a formidable musical arsenal that continues to propel sold-out tours and album sales, now exceeding 75 million. Responsible for some of rock and roll’s most enduring anthems including “Juke Box Hero,” “Cold As Ice,” “Hot Blooded,” the worldwide #1 hit “I Want To Know What Love Is,” and many more, Foreigner continues to rock the charts more than 40 years into the game with massive airplay and continued Billboard Top 200 album success.

Tickets will go on sale Friday, February 1 at 10:00am. Prices are $43 (general admission stage front standing), $38 (reserved Grandstand seating), and $33 (general admission bleacher seating). Tickets will be available online at, by phone at 515-244-2771, or in person at the Events Center Box Office. There will be no additional fees applied to any of these purchase methods.

Please note Grandstand guest services changes for 2019. Bag checks will be implemented at all Grandstand events at the 2019 Fair. The following items will be prohibited: weapons/firearms, alcoholic beverages not provided by the Fair & Events Center, air horns/whistles or other noisemakers, helium-filled balloons, glitter/confetti, glass bottles, fireworks and illegal substances.

The Fair will also sell beer at selected Grandstand events during the 2019 Fair.

Clay County Fair announces Grandstand changes

Citing the need to provide a safer and more relevant Grandstand concert and event experience, the Clay County Fair has announced several changes for the 2019 Fair, September 7-15.

“The Fair is known for its long tradition of bringing big-name entertainment to Spencer each September,” said Fair Manager Jeremy Parsons.  “While our goal is to maintain and build on that tradition, the rapidly changing world means that we must make changes to stay relevant to today’s Grandstand concert and event attendees.”

Bag checks will be implemented at all Grandstand events at the 2019 Fair, as well as some public events held throughout the year at the Clay County Regional Events Center.

“One of our top priorities is to keep our guests safe, and in today’s world that means security measures like bag checks,” said Parsons.  “The Grandstand is a large venue, which makes it a potential large target, and we want to take preventative steps to keep people safe.”

Parsons said that the bag checks, which will be conducted upon entrance into the Fair’s Grandstand, will be similar to the checks implemented at other concert venues and stadiums.

“We wanted to get the word out now so that as people plan their Grandstand ticket purchases and visits to the Fair, they can plan accordingly for the bag checks – allowing for extra time and making sure they do not carry in any prohibited items like alcohol,” he said.

The Fair will also begin selling beer at selected Grandstand events at the 2019 Fair.

“In today’s changing world, beer sales at concerts and events is part of the normal social experience,” said Parsons.  “Although the Fair has a long tradition of being ‘dry,’ if we want the Grandstand to remain relevant as an entertainment venue, we must change some of our practices.”

While beer will be sold at selected Grandstand events, the Fair’s family friendly atmosphere will remain the same, according to Parsons.

“Beer will only be sold during selected Grandstand events and cannot be carried out of the Grandstand,” he said.  “It will be completely contained in the Grandstand area.”

The first announcement for the 2019 Clay County Fair Grandstand schedule will be made next week with the entire line-up released through the spring.

“These changes, along with some tweaks to our Grandstand schedule, will make for an exciting 2019 at the Fair,” he said.

Clay County Fair announces admission changes for 2019

Clay County Fair families will save big at the 2019 Fair with free daily admission for all fairgoers age 12 and under.

“Being an affordable family destination is an important goal of the Fair,” said Fair Manager Jeremy Parsons. “While the Fair has always allowed children age 7 and under to attend for free, expanding the age to 12 should help families in our region enjoy the Fair more often.”

Adult admission for the 2019 Fair, which last increased in 2017, will remain the same.

2018 By the Numbers

Nine days of warm sunny weather made the “The World’s Greatest County Fair” a perfect September get-away for thousands of fairgoers, September 8-16.

“Although crowds appeared to be affected the last weekend when temperatures hit the 90 degree mark, we were fortunate to get nine consecutive dry days,” said Fair Manager Jeremy Parsons. “Great weather, great programming, and great improvements to the fairgrounds all made for a successful 2018 Fair.”

Parsons continued that the success of the 2018 Clay County Fair can be measured in several metrics, including:

Fairgoer Satisfaction

  • According to data from surveys conducted by Iowa Lakes Community College, 79% of fairgoers said they were “very satisfied” with the Fair (compared to 74.7% in 2017).
  • Additionally, 91.5% of those surveyed said they “definitely would” or were “very likely” to recommend attending the Fair to their friends and family (compared to 89% in 2017).

Youth Participation

  • 903 4-H and FFA exhibitors from 48 counties in Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska participated in livestock and human sciences events at the Fair.
  • 1,219 third and fourth grade students from 21 regional schools visited the Fair as part of the AgCiting and SciCiting field trip programs coordinated by ISU Extension Clay County.

Fairgoer Spending

  • Fairgoer spending on food, beverage, specialty concessions, and carnival rides totaled $2,282,267.94 (up more than $28,000 over 2017).
  • Specifically, Gold Star Amusements, the Fair’s carnival provider, set an all-time Fair record for carnival ride gross sales – a 5% increase over the previous record set in 2017. 

Exhibitor Participation

  • 503 commercial exhibitors, concessionaires, and vendors showcased at the Fair (up from 497 in 2017). With 150 ag-specific exhibitors, the Fair again hosted the largest farm machinery and ag equipment show at any fair in the United States.
  • 1,398 exhibitors participated in various open class livestock and non-livestock competitions and took home nearly $100,000 in premiums, ribbons, trophies, and awards. (1,593 open class exhibitors participated in 2017.)


  • The Sleep Number Grandstand attracted 21,335 fairgoers to multiple stage performances and dirt events, down slightly from 21,831 fairgoers in 2017. The top four attended events were Lee Brice (3,195); Lauren Daigle/Zach Williams (2,973); Chuckwagon Races (2,810-two sessions); and Oak Ridge Boys/Jimmy Fortune (2,746).
  • Overall Fair attendance totaled 308,603. Complete daily attendance numbers can be found at

“I know avid fairgoers will try to compare this year’s attendance numbers with previous years’ numbers,” said Parsons. “Unfortunately, comparing this year’s attendance to any previous year’s attendance is not an apples-to-apples comparison. Technology changes this year allow us to present a more accurate number.”

Changes to the Fair’s ticketing procedures, including digitally scanning some advance admission tickets in 2018, allowed the Fair to create a more accurate attendance reporting model replacing the former attendance estimates.

“Fair attendance is a source of civic pride and curiosity for all of our stakeholders,” said Parsons. “While we recognize and celebrate that importance, the Fair also has a responsibility to be transparent and accountable. However, in order for that accountability to occur, we must take the time to present an accurate attendance number, which is difficult to do while the Fair is still going on.”

For the first time in recent Fair history, estimated daily attendance numbers were not released during the Fair in an attempt to provide a more accurate attendance number.

More detailed information on the 2018 Clay County Fair will be made available at the Clay County Fair Association’s annual meeting on October 30.  Lifetime memberships to the Fair Association are available for $100.  Call (712) 580-3000 for more information.

Home Free – A Country Christmas

The Clay County Fair & Events Center is pleased to announce Home Free – A Country Christmas presented as part of the SRG Concert Series Saturday, December 15, 2018. The show, which will be held in the Clay County Regional Events Center, will begin at 7:30pm.

“The Events Center Christmas show has become a tradition in northwest Iowa,” said Fair & Events Center CEO Jeremy Parsons. “This outstanding night with Home Free will be the perfect addition to that tradition.”

Home Free, known for their show-stopping performances that mix their signature no-instrument, all-vocal music with their quick-witted humor, is sure to entertain all ages with their Country Christmas. The five-man a capella group will perform country and holiday favorites, including music from their Billboard No. 2 album, “Full Of (Even More) Cheer.”

Tickets are on sale. Prices are $48, $38, and $28 (reserved seating). A “Holiday Cheer” option that includes a pre-show party with unlimited food and drink is available for $20 (limited number available). Tickets will be available online at, by phone at 515-244-2771, or in person at the Events Center Box Office.

Gate Access Updates for 2018 Clay County Fair

Fairgoers to the 2018 Clay County Fair will want to take note of several changes that may affect their selected route and parking because of construction related to the City of Spencer’s 4th Avenue West CDBG Project, Phase II.

“A major improvement like the City’s 4th Avenue West project is exciting for both the future of the Fair and the City of Spencer,” said Fair Manager Jeremy Parsons. “However, a project of this size cannot be completed without adequate time so fairgoers need to be aware of some temporary changes for 2018.”

Despite recent progress on the street and the paving of a majority of driveway approaches and sidewalks, 4th Avenue West will remain closed to through traffic during the Fair to protect the new improvements. Although the street will be closed, fairgoers will see very little disruption.

“We have worked closely with the City to make this the best possible situation for fairgoers,” said Parsons. Items for fairgoers to note are as follows:

  • The Silver Lot (east of the main Fairgrounds on 4th Avenue West) will be accessible from all entrances.
  • Gate C (the corner of West 14th Street and 4th Avenue West) will be accessible from the east and south
  • Gate A will be accessible for walk-in traffic. The circle drive in front of Gate A will be accessible for the RIDES shuttle service and other mass transit options for visiting the Fair. Private vehicular traffic will not be permitted at Gate A.

Kids Day adds new fun to the 2018 Clay County Fair

The Fair tradition continues with Y100 Kid’s Day being celebrated on Friday, Sept. 14.

“Thanks to the cooperation of Clay County schools, Kid’s Day is a great Fair tradition for many families,” said Fair Manager Jeremy Parsons. “We are excited this year to take that tradition to a new level by jamming the day full of even more activities for our young fairgoers.”

Kids 18 and under are able to enter the Fair for free. A special Kid’s Day wristband (available only at the Fair) will be available as well. This wristband will include unlimited carnival rides for $23. In addition, the Fair will be partnering with Y100 for the chance to receive VIP wristbands at an even greater discount – free. Beginning August 22nd, listen to Y100 every Wednesday leading up to the Fair for a chance to win the wristband giveaway.

Besides free admission and a special wristband deal from GoldStar Amusements, there are many other kid-friendly activities scheduled for Sept. 14.

The Dollipops is an engaging, high-energy, highly interactive kids’ show. The characters Dolli and Pop will have kids ready to sing, laugh, and dance with all of the interactions. These two sisters will have kids and their parents moving, making memories, and grooving. The event will take place in the Eurocast Events Center Ballroom at three different times: 11:00am, 1:00pm, and 3:00pm.

Another Fair favorite — Muttin’ Bustin’ – moves from Tuesday to Friday to create new excitement for young cowboys. Two rounds will be held at 2:00pm and 4:00pm in the Indoor Arena. Upon arrival, kids and parents will need to sign up to participate.

Another popular event is the Kids Pedal Pull located at Grandpa’s Barn (location change from 2017) and will take place at 5:00pm. Registration will also be accepted at the time of the event.

Performance both educational and entertaining add to the Fair fun

Fun for everyone is always the focus at the Clay County Fair, September 8-16.

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 2018 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 performers on the Art Barn Stage at 1:00pm. Performers scheduled include Stephan Baker (Saturday, Sept. 8), Greg Davis (Sunday, Sept. 9), Robert Johnson (Monday, Sept. 10), Becky Boyer (Wednesday, Sept. 12), Jim and Jessie Howard of The Jessie James Band (Thursday, Sept. 13), Stephen Baker and Friends (Friday, Sept. 14), and Duane Davis (Saturday, Sept. 15).

The new Grandpa’s Barn includes almost double the space for families to enjoy and develop and appreciation for everything related to Iowa’s leading industry – agriculture. Baby animals, 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 hands on activities, live animals, and more. Naturalist programs will be held daily at 10:00am and 2:00pm with activities involving, bison, black bears, minnows, owls, and more. There will be a live bald eagle on Monday, Sept. 10 and Friday, Sept. 14 at 11:00am, and 1:00pm. The Great Plains Zoomobile will also be at the Fair on Sunday, Sept. 9 and Saturday, Sept. 14 at 2:00pm.

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.

2018 new foods grab eyes and stomachs of Fairgoers

Fairgoers to the 2018 Clay County Fair will have more than 30 new foods to try during their visit Sept. 8-16, including five that have been named as finalists for the third edition of the “The World’s Greatest County Fair Food” Contest.

“Fantastic food is a highlight for many fairgoers,” said Fair Manager Jeremy Parsons. “The quality and uniqueness of food found at the Fair is second-to-none.”

“The World’s Greatest County Fair Food” Contest will be judged on Saturday, Sept. 8 at 1:45pm on the Coca-Cola Atlantic Bottling Stage with one entry taking home the title, “The World’s Greatest County Fair Food.”

The five finalists (and vendors) are as follows:

Pickle Popper (TnT Concessions) – A whole dill pickle cut in two then stuffed with cream cheese, shredded cheese, bacon, jalapenos and mandarin oranges. Finally, dipped in a batter and deep fried.

Barnyard Burger (Spencer Jaycees) – Comprised of a tender chicken breast, a juicy 1/3 lb hamburger, and a succulent pork loin all layered with 3 different cheeses of your choice (Swiss, American, and/or pepper jack). Fairgoers can also choose to add extra toppings such as, jalapeños, sautéed onions, and mushrooms.

Spudnater (Wyman’s Spudnuts) – A chocolate glazed donut coated with a chocolate frosting, topped with mini chocolate chips, and drizzled with a chocolate ganache.

Tiny Tators (Eat It) – Tiny whole potatoes boiled and fried, then covered in a buttery garlic ranch sauce and topped with parmesan cheese.

Smoked Mac-N-Cheese (Gobblestop Turkey Shop, LLC) – Creamy, cheesy mac n cheese smoked to perfection and served hot and ready.

An added category this year is a “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. 8 – Tuesday, Sept. 11. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, Sept. 12 during the Fair.

Other new foods at the upcoming Fair include:

Duck wontons (Benoit Distributing Company)

Polish sausage corn dogs (Campbell’s Concessions, Inc.)

Muffins (Creative Cakes by Mindy)

Rolled ice cream (Dough Boys)

Chicken City (Eat It!)

Smoked Chicken Legs (Eat It!)

Chicken gizzards and livers (Eat It!)

Orange frosty (Eat It! Everything Orange)

Orange slush (Eat It! Everything Orange)

Orange shakeup monkey ice (Eat It! Everything Orange)

Breakfast taco wrap (Jones Lunch)

Stuffed pickles (Judy’s Husband’s Stuffed Pickles)

Bacon ice cream sundae (Kiwanis After 5)

Muffins (Kiwanis Club – Daybreakers)

Reuben (traditional) (McCreary’s Creative Catering)

Rachel Ruben (turkey Ruben) (McCreary’s Creative Catering)

Cuban (pulled pork Ruben) (McCreary’s Creative Catering)

Vegetarian (veggie Ruben) (McCreary’s Creative Catering)

Deep-fried grilled cheese (McCreary’s Creative Catering)

Deep-fried brownies (McCreary’s Creative Catering)

Frozen hot chocolate (McCreary’s Creative Catering)

Frozen Lemonade (McCreary’s Creative Catering)

Maple cotton candy (Morley’s Maple Syrup)

Maple lollipops (Morley’s Maple Syrup)

Pure maple syrup (Morley’s Maple Syrup)

Maple bourbon aged syrup (Morley’s Maple Syrup)

Maple cream (Morley’s Maple Syrup)
Apple cider syrup (Morley’s Maple Syrup)

Chocolate mint muddy buddies (Spencer Area Shrine Club ATV)

Luau sandwich (Spencer Jaycees)

Spudnut burger (Spencer Jaycees)

Custom-made wood-fired pizza (Stump’s Wood-Fired Pizza)

Thelma’s handmade ice cream sandwiches (Thelma’s Treats)

The Original Minneapple Pie (The Original Minneapple Pie)

European licorice ropes (Timbo’s Licorice Ropes)

Danish coffee cake (Village Café)

Handcrafted wild rice and beef burgers (Westrum Quality Foods)

The Fair has made it easier to find your favorite food by using the Food Finder at The food finder allows you to search and locate your old and new favorite foods.

PRCA Rodeo to headline Outdoor Arena events

An evening of PRCA Rodeo, as well as many other equine events, will be the featured attractions at the Outdoor Arena during the 2018 Clay County Fair, Sept. 8-16.

“Due to a last minute change in the PRCA’s scheduling, we are fortunate to be able to bring in a night of top-notch rodeo action,” said Fair Manager Jeremy Parsons. “As a bonus to our great fairgoers, this event will be free with gate admission.”

The PRCA Rodeo, presented by Barnes Rodeo Company, will take place on Sunday, Sept. 9 at 6:30pm. The full rodeo replaces the previously announced CCF Bull Riding Challenge.

The Outdoor Arena will host daily open class horse shows, as well as 4-H and FFA horse shows. Open class (Paint, Appaloosa, Quarter, Pony Halter and Performance) shows will be Sept. 8-10 before the start of the 4-H and FFA shows on Sept. 11-13. The second weekend of the Fair, Sept. 15-16, will feature both big and little horses in several open class divisions, including pony and miniature halter; 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. 15) and Sunday (Sept. 16) of the Fair. The show will feature a $1,000 prize for the winning hitch both days. New in 2018, the hitch classes will begin at 12:00pm (Noon) giving attendees two full afternoons to watch horses and hitches.

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

NBHA Barrel Racing will begin at 6:00pm on Saturday Sept. 8. This event will have cowgirls from across the upper Midwest competing for the title and $1,500 in added money.

Another show that will take center stage at the Outdoor Arena will be Cowboy Mounted Shooting, on Friday, Sept. 14 at 6:30pm. This event includes a time 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 day (Sept. 14) begins with another Fair favorite, Team Roping, at 11:00am.

The last Saturday of the Fair, Sept. 16, 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.

Floriculture Department rooted in tradition at Clay County Fair

The tradition continues at the Clay County Fair with the Creative Living Center being a location that hosts local art, culinary creations, floral designs, and different demonstrations, Sept. 8-16.

A portion of that blue ribbon tradition is the Floriculture department, which catches fairgoer’s attention with roses, gladioli, dahlias, annuals, perennials, container-grown plants, trees and shrubs daily.

Along with these plants, the gourd show will take place Sept. 8-10. The decorative gourds can be formed into birdhouses, musical instruments, holiday décor, dolls, lamps, or jewelry and can be entered into this competitive class.

“We are excited to have the educational exhibits in the gourd category back this year,” said Floriculture Superintendent Victoria Rute. “This allows exhibitors to teach other people how to grow and design with gourds.”

The department is unique because there are different exhibits displayed throughout the nine days of the Fair. The opening show days, Sept. 8-10, will include gladioli, trees and shrubs, and gourds. Roses, annuals and perennials will be displayed on Sept. 11-12. The open class show will take place on Sept. 13-14 along with the container-grown plants. Ending the 2018 Fair will be dahlias on Sept. 15-16.

Along with educational exhibits, there are exhibits and categories for all ages and experience levels. “You do not need to be a member of the garden club to exhibit in the Floriculture Department,” said Rute.

There are no entry fees and exhibitors also do not need to be residents of Clay County. New exhibitors are also encouraged to enter their creations at the Fair. Every age group, from age 2 to 92, will find a class to enter.

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. All exhibits will be received beginning at 6:00pm the day before the show until 10:30am on the first day of the show.

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