Clay County Fair Booster Tour headed to your community

The Clay County Fair Centennial Booster Tour powered by Winnebago is kicking off an 84-city tour of Clay County and eight neighboring counties on Tuesday, August 1 with visits to Sibley, Ashton, Sheldon and Allendorf.

The Booster Tour will continue on Tuesday August 2, with visits to Lake Park, Harris, Ocheyedan and May City.

 The Booster Tour, which is contained in a fully wrapped 28’ Winnebago Era RV, has been traveling throughout the upper Midwest this summer promoting the Centennial Celebration of “The World’s Greatest County Fair” in Spencer, Sept. 9-17.

Visitors to the 84-city Booster Tour will be able to pick up Fair information and free give-away items. Additionally, the first person to find the Booster Tour in each community will win a Fair prize pack. Follow the Clay County Fair on Facebook for times the Tour is setting up at each stop as well as clues to the RV’s location.

“The Clay County Fair has been a northwest Iowa tradition because of the passionate support it receives from its fairgoers,” said CCF Manager Jeremy Parsons. “We thought it would be great to visit our fairgoers in their hometowns and thank them for their support.”

Monday, August 1Sibley, Ashton, Sheldon, Allendorf
Tuesday, August 2Lake Park, Harris, Ocheyedan, May City
Monday, August 7Moneta, Hartley, Melvin, Sanborn, Archer
Tuesday, August 8Primghar, Paullina, Germantown, Calumet, Gaza
Friday, August 11Washta, Quimby, Aurelia, Cherokee
Monday, August 14Marcus, Cleghorn, Meriden, Larrabee
Tuesday, August 15Hanover, Alta, Truesdale, Storm Lake
Wednesday, August 16Sulphur Springs, Newell, Varina, Fonda
Thursday, August 17Palmer, Pocahontas, Rolfe, Plover
Friday, August 18Mallard, West Bend, Rodman, Cylinder
Monday, August 21 Ayrshire, Curlew, Emmetsburg, Ruthven
Tuesday, August 22Terril, Wallingford, Graettinger, Ringsted
Wednesday, August 23 Estherville, Gruver, Maple Hill, Armstrong, Dolliver
Thursday, August 24Superior, Orleans, Spirit Lake, Montgomery
Friday, August 25Okoboji, Arnolds Park, Milford, Wahpeton, West Okoboji
Monday, August 28 Sioux Rapids, Marathon, Albert City, Laurens, Havelock
Tuesday, August 29 Sutherland, Peterson, Linn Grove, Rembrandt
Wednesday, August 30Everly, Royal, Rossie
Thursday, August 31Dickens, Gillette Grove, Greenville, Webb
Friday, September 1Spencer, Langdon, Milford, Fostoria

Come Home and enjoy unique entertainment at the 2017 Fair

This year’s Clay County Fair, Sept. 9-17, 2017, will feature two exciting shows, Disconnected K9’s and “Wild about Monkeys.”

Fairgoers will be in awe of the world champion dogs with their unique tricks and stories, as well as the movie-star monkeys and the educational experiences that come with them.

“One of our free entertainment goals is to provide unique experiences for our fairgoers,” said CCF Manager Jeremy Parsons. “These two great acts are just a portion of the $180,000 in free entertainment we will be offering at this year’s Fair.”

The Disconnected K9’s has been entertaining audiences since trainer Lawrence Frederick discovered the disc dog world in 1989. The team, which has performed all over the world in many different events, consists of several dogs, many of which have champion titles to their name.

One unique factor of the Disconnected K9’s is every dog on the team is a “rescue” dog, meaning they have come from either abandoned, homeless, sheltered, humane society, etc. backgrounds. Frederick hopes this shows audiences that any dog can become incredible if they are well cared for and shown the love and attention they deserve.

With over 25 years of experience in the animal business, Kevin Keith brings an exciting show to not only entertain, but to enrich audience members’ knowledge about relationships and bonds that exist between animal and man. After a decade working at Marine World, Keith created his own company, Monkey Business Productions, and started the show “Wild about Monkeys” alongside Martina Tamelova-Keith. He and his animal family have accumulated an impressive list of credits that include titles from feature films, television, and commercials. In fact, Mickey, one of the stars of the show, starred next to Tom Cruise in the movie “Rock of Ages” as “Hey Man” back in 2012. Along with these features, “Wild about Monkeys” continues to rate among the highest live animal productions in the nation.

Variety of talent to entertain at DISH Plaza and Ag Partners Discovery Stage during 2017 Fair

DISH Plaza as well as the Ag Partners Discovery Stage will pull in a variety of free entertainment from music to magic during the 2017 Clay County Fair, Sept. 9-17

“These two stages will provide just a portion of the $180,000 in free entertainment that will be offered to fairgoers as part of the Fair’s Centennial Celebration,” said Fair Manager Jeremy Parsons.

Talented local musician Glenn Henriksen will play twice daily at DISH Plaza Sept. 9-17.  In honor of the Fair’s Centennial, he and the wide variety of other talented musicians with him will perform music from a different decade each day. His repertoire includes ragtime, pop and rock, gospel and classical, ensuring every fairgoer will enjoy a tune.

Entertaining audiences on the Ag Partners Discovery Stage this year will be an Awesome Ag Magic Show, along with Music Technology with Brent Daniels.

A favorite of many fairgoers, the Awesome Ag Magic Show is back at the Fair with multiple performances daily. Fairgoers can laugh while they learn. Audience members might even find themselves participating in all the family-friendly fun, teaching the importance of agriculture.

Making his debut at the Fair, Brent Daniels will amaze audience members of all ages with music technology. Daniels has performed for thousands of schools over the past few decades entertaining and teaching students about electronic music production and the importance of education. As a music producer, multi-instrumentalist, sound designer, singer, remixer, and recording artist, Daniels has worked with many performers as well as had his music featured on several television shows and movies.

14 new contests highlight creative culinary competition at Fair

“Come Home” and showcase your baking talents at this year’s Clay County Fair, Sept. 9-17.  With 14 new special contests in the Oven Products department in 2017, there is certainly something for everyone.

In honor of this year’s Fair Centennial, as well as Riecke’s Bayside Gallery’s thirty-year celebration, a special prize of a large, matted Robert Duncan painting will be awarded to the exhibitor with the most entries in the department. Each exhibitor will also receive a special commemorative ribbon to help celebrate this year’s Centennial Clay County Fair.

In addition, each recipe entered this year will be a part of a Centennial cookbook available for purchase in 2018.

New special contests honoring the Centennial Celebration include KAF’s Centennial Red, White and Blue Contests where each adult will enter a Berries and Crème Tart and juniors will make Red, White and Blue Blondies. Farmer’s Trust and Savings Bank will be sponsoring a new “Heritage” Recipe Contest where individuals are encouraged to make a 100-year-old family recipe and add a short background. Finally on Sunday, September 17, there will be two contests featuring Clay County Fair’s most memorable picnic food traditions (fried chicken and potato salad) to commemorate this special year.

The $1,000 Cinnamon Roll Contest is returning once again this year, sponsored by Farmer’s Savings Bank, The Pothast Family, Edward Jones, and Asher Motor Company. This big-prize contest on Monday, September 11, contributes to the total of more than $5,400 of prize money available for the special contests.

In addition to these fun contests, there will be many others as well. IBBIA’s Biscuits and Gravy Egg Bake Contest will kick off the Fair on Sunday, September 10. Both the Beef Calzone Contest and the Pork Tenderloins Fixed Your Way Contest will be on Tuesday, September 12. On Wednesday, September 13, there will be the Awesome Appetizers That You Would Serve at an Opening Night Play/Show Party Contest. The contest implemented last year in memory of Janice Nostrom will return, this year focusing on Honey Oatmeal Yeast Bread. Mrs. Grimes Black Beans and Corn Salsa Contest will be on Friday, September, 15. Also on Friday, the contest created in memory of Bruce Piper will feature “America’s Favorite Dessert Contest” – Bruce Piper’s Apple Pie. Finally, wrapping up the week-long festivities will be the Del’s Potato Salad Contest.

For more information on these contests as well as other competitions at the Fair, please visit the competition page to download an exhibitor handbook.


Kid’s Day returns to the 2017 Clay County Fair

A long time Fair tradition returns in 2017 with a new twist when Y100 Kid’s Day is celebrated on Friday, September 15 at the Centennial Clay County Fair.

“Kid’s Day is always a highlight of the Fair,” said Fair Manager, Jeremy Parsons. “That highlight becomes even brighter in 2017 with the addition of a new sponsor (Y100) and a free stage show (“Curious George Live”).

CURIOUS GEORGE LIVE! is the can’t miss musical that will entertain the whole family. Three live performances, which are free with gate admission, will be held in the Event Center Ballroom on Sept. 15. Curious George is the adorable and loveable little monkey who takes everyone along on intriguing problem-solving adventures. Live on stage, Curious George swings and flips his way through a fun-filled story that takes the audience on an exciting journey. Both young and old alike will enjoy the tap-your-feet worthy songs and the laugh-out-loud moments with this monkey and his friends as they compete to win the Golden Meatball Contest.

Kids 18 and under are able to enter the Fair for free on Kids Day. A special Kid’s Day wristband (available only at the Fair) will be available as well.

In addition, the Fair will be partnering with Y100 for the chance to win VIP wristbands, which are good for unlimited rides all nine days of the Fair. Beginning August 16, listen to Y100 every Wednesday leading up to the Fair for a chance to win the VIP wristband giveaway.

“Come Home” to the Floriculture Department at the Fair

The Creative Living Center will be a popular location to take in local art, culinary skills, floral designs and a variety of demonstrations at the 2017 Clay County Fair, Sept. 9-17.

The Floriculture department continues to expand and grow in popularity. Fairgoers will enjoy roses, gladioli, dahlias, annuals, perennials, container-grown plants, trees and shrubs daily. As extended last year, the gourd show will once again be a three-day-long event (Sept. 9-11). Decorative gourds can be formed into birdhouses, dolls, musical instruments, jewelry, holiday décor, or lamps to be entered into a competing class.

Educational exhibits have also been added within the gourd category to teach people how to grow and design with gourds. Youth are also encouraged to participate in this expanding category, with two youth classes; intermediate, ages 8-12, and advanced, ages 13-17.

“We are really trying to ‘grow’ the next generation of floral gardeners by encouraging youth participation,” says Victoria Rute, floriculture superintendent.

In addition to gourds, fairy gardens are a main focus for the Floriculture department this year. This is a fun landscaping/scenery category lasting two days (Sept. 14-15) that encourage participants of all ages to show their creativity and use their imagination. Fairy gardens do not necessarily put emphasis on plant material, but must have some live plant material(s) to qualify.

There are still openings in several design classes including decorative niches, pedestals, mantels, and tables. Also, for those still interested in participating, there will be open classes on Sept. 14 for both botanical as well as floral designs. Beginning this year, all plant material used in a design must be listed on a card; either botanical and/or common name will be acceptable.

Check out the exhibitor handbooks to find the rules and guidelines to enter your work at the Clay County Fair.

“Come Home” for the Fun Entertainment on Farmers Bank Stage

The Farmers Bank Stage will bring nine days of quality entertainment to the Clay County Fair Sept. 9-17, just a portion of the $180,000 in free entertainment that will be offered to fairgoers as part of the Fair’s Centennial Celebration.

“The entertainment at the Farmers Bank Stage will be a perfect blend at the 2017 Fair,” said Fair Manager Jeremy Parsons. “It will be a mix of great Fair favorites along with unbelievable new acts that will quickly become Fair favorites.”

Fairgoers will enjoy a variety of music and entertainment to kick off the Fair, Sept. 9-11, with performances by the talented a capella group Six Appeal, and Fantastick Patrick, a comic and juggler.

Fantastick Patrick brings something fresh and exciting to the world of live entertainment with a show full of comedy and incredible tricks. From juggling fire, swords, and balls, to an awesome yo-yo act, plate-spinning, and free-balancing massive objects on his face, Fantastick Patrick will entertain all ages.

Six Appeal, a long-time favorite of many fairgoers, is a world class vocal ensemble infused with impeccable comedic timing and the energy and vitality of a rock band. Swearing off instruments, the award-winning vocal band Six Appeal takes you on a journey that spans decades of music, performing classic oldies, current chart toppers, and catchy original tunes – all sung a cappella.

Sept. 12-14 brings polka and a band of merry sidekicks to tickle your funny bone.

Kris and the Riverbend Dutchmen is an upbeat and energetic polka band headquartered near Mankato, Minnesota. The band blends traditional German, Czech, and Bohemian Polka with a unique style and energy, uncommon in many old time polka bands.

Laugh with ventriloquist David Malmberg and his sidekicks; comedy, voice tossing, story telling, and music will leave you laughing for weeks. The wisecracking antics of the lovable Simon Spencer, America’s grouchiest farmer, Leonard Cribble, and the totally clueless Lars Gunderson, provide one sizzling laugh after another.

Rounding out the entertainment for the Farmers Bank Stage Sept. 15-17 are Jared Sherlock, an award winning illusionist, and the variety duo The Memories.

Jared Sherlock, a comic magician, combines modern magic and clean comedy entertainment. Audience members joining Jared onstage, high-energy comedy juggling, and a contemporary performance of the infamous bullet-catch using a paintball gun are just a few of the things you might encounter during the show.

For more than 40 years The Memories have entertained audiences across the country. With their unique harmonies and great songs, this Wisconsin-based duo is made up of Warren Petryk and Tim Stevens. Another Fair favorite, The Memories continue to deliver a show has been described as “Music, Laughter, and Wonderful Times.”

Entertainment sponsored by Farmers Bank does not end with the free stage performances. The fireworks that light up the night sky after each U.S. Cellular Grandstand concert event would not be possible without Farmers Bank participation.

Enter your blue-ribbon creations at the Fair

The Textiles, Crafts and Art department will again showcase people’s blue ribbon creativity in the Creative Living Center at the 2017 Clay County Fair, Sept. 9-17.

Three new classes of competition, two which are based on the Fair’s Centennial theme of “Come Home,” will also create new opportunities for exhibitors to bring home ribbons, gift certificates, special awards, and cash premiums.

“From glass art to wood carving, there is something for everyone to enter in this department,” said CCF Manager Jeremy Parsons. “We hope everyone who is even the tiniest bit ‘creative’ will enter something in this year’s Fair.”

One of the new competitions is a special “Coming Home” Centennial display, which allows participants to enter past blue-ribbon winning entries. Participants are asked to provide the year that the item entered received a blue ribbon. Other new competitions include a batik fabric quilt class and a theme class for “Coming Home” wallhangings made of fabric.

These new competitions join the hundreds of other classes in the Textiles, Crafts and Art department, which include painting, drawing, quilting, needlework, garment making, and woodworking.

There is no fee to enter any of the competitions and exhibitors do not need to be residents of Clay County. To encourage new exhibitors, there is a first time exhibitor class available.

Check out the exhibitor handbooks to find the rules and guidelines to enter your work at the Clay County Fair. Entries are accepted noon to 7 p.m. on Sept. 1 and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 2 or any time before if mailed to the Fair. Every age group, 2 to 92, will find a class tailored for them.

Come Home for The Britins, Country Roads and more on Northwest Bank Stage

The Northwest Bank Stage will bring nine days of quality entertainment to the Clay County Fair Sept. 9-17, just a portion of the $180,000 in free entertainment that will be offered to fairgoers as part of the Fair’s Centennial Celebration.

“Our free entertainment stages have always been popular spots for our fairgoers because of the incredible options that are provided,” said Fair Manager Jeremy Parsons. “This year’s Northwest Bank line-up will definitely continue that tradition.”

Beatle “mania” will again hit the Fair Sept. 9-11 with The Britins (Beatles tribute act). One of the Fair’s most requested groups returns to take fairgoers on a trip back to the ‘60s with the sights and sounds recreated with authentic Beatles gear and costumes.

Joining the Britins, Tommy Ryman (comedian) will also perform Sept. 9-11. Ryman earned the title of semifinalist on NBC’s television show “Last Comic Standing.”

The Holy Rocka Rollaz (50’s rock) and Divas Through the Decades (variety) will entertain fairgoers with rock ’n’ roll hits from the 40’s through today Sept. 12-14. These acts will keep visitors rocking to hits from Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and Johnny Cash to Tina Turner, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin, and many more.

Have you ever met a talking dog, a real talking dog? Get ready to meet the funniest character on four legs Sept. 15-17. Todd Oliver and Friends (ventriloquist) is a show enjoyed by audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Audience participation and personalizing each show is a part of Oliver’s proven successful formula.


Farm Gadget Show will again be part of 2017 Fair

Exhibitors everywhere are invited to be part of this year’s Farm Gadget Show at the 2017 Clay County Fair.

The show, which started in 2015, began from the “All Around the Farm” page that comes out in the back of every “Successful Farmer” magazine.

“Exhibits don’t have to be something you made (or make) from scratch, but could be something you have improved on to make it work for the job you need done on the farm,” said Karen Schwaller, show superintendent.

Schwaller said farmers tend to be problem solvers. “If farmers can’t find what they need or want, they often go back to their farm shops to make what they need—whether it’s something they build from scraps out of the iron pile or wood pile, or they might make an improvement on an existing piece of machinery to change or improve the way it operates,” she said.

Exhibits can be something as small as a hand-held object, to something that needs to be hauled onto the fairgrounds on a trailer. Whatever the “gadget,” it needs to be something that can be used on the farm. Photo exhibits will also be accepted if the gadget cannot physically be brought to the Fair, but will be used for exhibit purposes only, and will not be eligible for cash prizes.

Farm Gadget Show exhibits are judged on workmanship, design, usefulness, appearance, safety and creative use of resources. The Fair offers $100 for first place in each category, $50 for second place and $25 for third place.

“We have categories for adult and youth individuals, along with groups of adults and groups of youth,” said Schwaller. “Any farm inventions or machine changes/improvements you bring are fair game as long as they follow the guidelines on the Fair’s website.”

Exhibitors don’t have to be farmers, but the exhibit does need to be farm-related. Exhibits do not have to look like they came from the showroom floor, either, Schwaller said.

This year’s show will also showcase old-time farm gadgets as the Fair celebrates its Centennial. Anyone with an old/antique exhibit they would like to bring in for display purposes only is welcome to do so. Those exhibits will be protected in glass cases, and fairgoers will have a chance to guess what the “gadgets” are to win gift certificates to eating establishments at the Fair.

“This new competition area has gotten much traffic in its first two years at the Fair, and fairgoers do seem interested in looking at the exhibits and reading about how they are used,” said Schwaller.

CLICK HERE for an exhibitor handbook and learn more about the show’s guidelines and rules.


In honor of National Travel and Tourism Week, the Iowa Tourism Office recently recognized the Clay County Fair for its contributions to the state’s $8.06 billion tourism industry.

National Travel and Tourism Week (May 7-13), now in its 34th year, unites communities across the country to celebrate what travel means to employment, economic growth and personal well-being.

“We value and appreciate our partners for the work they do year-round to enhance the state’s economy through tourism,” said Shawna Lode, manager of the Iowa Tourism Office. “We’re taking this special week to recognize communities, events, attractions, restaurants and lodging facilities in all 99 counties and thank them for those efforts.”

“It was an honor to host Shawna and brainstorm ideas about how we can promote the Clay County Fair and, in turn, Iowa,” said Fair Manager Jeremy Parsons. “We take seriously our role as one of the largest tourism events in the state and the impact that it has on Spencer and Clay County.”

Travel is an integral part of the state’s economy because people who visit Iowa annually generate more than $450 million in state tax revenue that pays for programs that benefit residents. The industry also supports the jobs of more than 67,000 Iowans – jobs that can never be outsourced to another location.

Local numbers:

  • 730 jobs are supported by travel and tourism in Clay County
  • Travel and tourism generates $1.34 million in local tax revenue for Clay County

In addition to its benefits for the local economy, travel can also have a positive effect on personal well-being for residents of and visitors to Iowa. Numerous research studies have confirmed the positive health effects of travel and time off, from reducing the risk of heart disease to decreasing depression. Using time off to travel with family is good for everyone, especially our children—kids who travel with their families are more likely to attend college and earn more as adults.


Jeremy Parsons of the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa, was honored at the 2017 Management Conference of the International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE) as a recipient of the Certified Fair Executive (CFE) designation.

The purposes of the CFE program are: a) to provide incentive for professional improvement in fair management; b) to recognize those who achieve the specific standards; and c) to develop professional status in the field of fair management. Certification also honors those members who have demonstrated their abilities through years of service to their fairs, fair associations, communities, and the Association.

He was one of 9 CFE recipients this year that were honored during a ceremony at the IAFE Management Conference in Spokane, Wash.

Parsons has served as CEO/Manager of the Clay County Fair since November 2011. Billed as “The World’s Greatest County Fair” and home to the largest farm machinery and ag equipment show at any fair in the United States, the Clay County Fair draws nearly 330,000 people each year during its nine-day run in September.

He also served as executive director of the Missouri State Fair Foundation, and prior to that, was a high school teacher and coach at Newtown-Harris R-3 in Newtown, Mo.

Parsons, a native of Leon, Iowa, is a 1995 graduate of Central Decatur High School and a 1998 graduate of Southwest Baptist University.

He and his wife, Kelsi, have three sons and live in Spencer.


The International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE), based in Springfield, Mo., is a voluntary, nonprofit corporation, serving state, provincial, regional, and county agricultural fairs, shows, exhibitions, and expositions. Its associate members include non–agricultural expositions and festivals, associations, corporations, and individuals engaged in providing products and services to its members, all of whom are interested in the improvement of fairs, shows, expositions, and allied fields.