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Communities, state prepare for fair season

By Staff | Jun 5, 2009

Each year Iowa’s youngsters, parents and volunteers spend countless hours preparing for their county and regional fairs, as well as the Iowa State Fair.

Although the contemporary main focus of a fair is showcasing young peoples’ projects, fairs also have a major economic impact to their community, county and the entire state.

According to the Association of Iowa Fairs, for most communities with fairs, the week of the fair is the largest activity of their community and can draw visitors from a wide area bringing much needed tourism dollars into those communities.

In addition to showcasing the youths involved in 4-H, FFA and open class projects, many fairs host a wide array of entertainment from big name performers to the annual Figure 8 Race to entice folks to come out and enjoy their fair.

The Lyon County Fair which will be held July 12-16 in Rock Rapids is featuring all sorts of activities and historical displays in the fairgrounds’ Round Barn that include Swedish weaving and various musical entertainment. Other activities held daily in the Round Barn include quilting, rope-making, pottery, lefsa and taffy making.

Elaine Hinsch, Lyon County fair board secretary, said new for this year is a “Bucket of Junk Contest,” where for $10 each contestant receives a bucket full of all sorts of materials to be used to create something. Those projects, she said will be judged the first day of the fair.

Grandstand entertainment at the Lyon County Fair, Hinsch said will include the queen contest, tractor pull, Heartland Racing Association races and Figure 8 races.

“It’s a Fact The Pride Is Back,” is the theme for this year’s North Iowa Fair scheduled for July 21-26, 2009 held in Mason City.

Wanda Kruse, general manager, took over last October and is hoping to get more people to attend and see what the North Iowa Fair has to offer.

“We’ve been steadily decreasing in attendance over the last few years and I’m hoping to start getting people excited about the fair again,” said Kruse.

To meet this goal, organizers scheduled grandstand entertainment with performers such as Jamey Johnson, Jason Michael Carroll and Jerrod Niemann; plus spectator events such as Motocross, a tractor pull and chuck wagon races.

Kruse said the fairgrounds are seeing some improvements with new paint and upgrades to the campgrounds.

The Hamilton County Fair in Webster City will be held this year July 20-26.

Fair spokesman Holly Myers said planners are featuring a few new events this year including a day where locals can share their talents. This is planned for Sunday during the fair on the Ed Prince Free Stage.

Other activities include the largest vegetable contest, a barn quilt block contest and the annual fair parade.

Auto races will be held on Thursday and Saturday night during the fair and a demolition derby will be held on Sunday.

New to the Hamilton County Fair, Myers said, is the Imperial Stunt Drivers that will perform the “wildest show on wheels” Friday night.

Many new ideas are still in the works for the Central Iowa Fair held in Marshalltown on July 15-18.

“Time to Shine in 2009” is the theme for this year’s fair and the new fair manager, Fritz Polt is trying to carry on with the hopes of building up the fair.

“Over the past five years the previous manager worked hard to build the fair back up and I want that to continue,” said Polt.

One way Polt hopes to achieve this is to increase the foot traffic throughout the fair and especially in the activity building. The first two days of the fair, he said the activity building will be open for any nonprofit association to display their talents and services at no cost. The final two days, Polt said he hopes the building will be full of craft items with a flea market being held outside.

An old fashioned ice cream social with local entertainment is planned for one evening during the fair. Thursday evening, musical performances by Neil Hewitt as well as other local performers will highlight that night of the fair and Friday night Route 66 will perform.

Lori Chappell, marketing director for the Iowa State Fair, said there are many new things to experience at the fair this year, which will be held Aug. 13-23.

“We have a lot of new agricultural education type exhibits this year,” said Chappell. “We have expanded the exhibits in the animal learning center and the Boulevard of Dairy Breeds, as well. We’ve also added a new wine experience in grandfather’s barn.”

Chappell said this year fair attendees can enter the butter-sculpting contest where twice daily participants will receive a block of butter and sculpting tools to come up with a miniature butter masterpiece.

“I Milked a Cow,” is also new where young and old, farm experience or not, everyone can have the hands-on experience of milking a cow the old fashioned way.

Kelly Clarkson, Brooks and Dunn and Journey are this year’s Iowa State Fair’s top grandstand performers.

Serving the Iowa Fair Industry since 1907 is the Association of Iowa Fairs. Thomas Barnes, AIF executive director, said the organization operates with a board of directors that consists of 12 district directors, two from each of the six fair districts in Iowa and does a lot for fairs as far as legislative and educational efforts. In addition, Barnes said the association is also available to provide assistance to fair boards if required.

“We do a lot at the capitol going after funding,” said Barnes.

In 2008 total state aid paid to all county and regional fairs totaled $1.06 million for an average of $10,095 per qualified fair. A total of $5.028 million was spent by fairs last year on capitol improvements to their fairgrounds, which was up 27 percent over 2007.

According to the AIF, 2.32 million people attended county and regional fairs last year, which as down 2 1/2 percent from 2007.

The total statewide economic impact realized from the 106 county and regional fairs in 2008 was $231.55 million, up 4 percent from 2007.

The following list has dates and special events for for county and regional fairs, which responded to our inquiries, within the Farm News coverage area.

These include:

BOONE: July 15-19. Events – July 16: “Tribute to Johnny Cash,” by Bill Dewey; July 17: Burnin’ Sensations; July 18: Stock truck pull; July 19: Combine demolition derby

BUENA VISTA: July 16-19. Events – July 17: Stock car races; July 18: Demolition derby; July 19: Enduro races.

CALHOUN: July 8-12. Events – July 9: IMCA stock car races; July 10: IRCA/IRA rodeo; July 11: Figure 8 races, fireworks and musical entertainment by Elevation.

CARROLL: July 15-19. Events – July 16: Bill Riley Talent Show; July 17: Oak Tree Opry; July 18: Figure 8 races; July 19: Tractor ride around Carroll County.

NORTH IOWA FAIR: July 21-26. Events – July 24: Jamey Johnson; July 25: Jason Michael Carroll; July 26: Jerrod Nieman.

CHEROKEE: July 9-12. Events – July 9: Imperial Stunt Drivers; July 10: T&C Rodeo bull riding events; July 11: Demolition derby; July 12: Go-cart races.

CLAY COUNTY FAIR: Sept. 12-20. Events – Sept. 12: Bill Engvall; Sept. 13: Gaither Vocal Band; Sept. 16: World of Outlaws tractor pulls; Sept. 17: Summer Shoot-out championship races; Sept. 18: Heart; Sept. 20: Trace Adkins.

CRAWFORD: July 29-Aug. 2. Events – July 30: Bill Riley Talent Show; July 31: Sprint car races; Aug.1: Grand River Rodeo; Aug. 2: Figure 8 races.

DALLAS: July 7-12. Events – July 9: Brandon McHose; July 10: Standing Hamptons; July 11: Demolition derby; July 12: IAMO tractor and stock pick-up truck pull.

DICKINSON: July 26-30. Events – July 26: Dinner and concert features “Generations of Rock-n-Roll.”

EMMET: July 23-26. Events – July 23: Tractor pull; July 24: Free fair supper; July 25: Jerrod Niemann; July 26: Teen dance.

FRANKLIN: July 15-19. Events July 15: Barnes PRCA Rodeo; July 16: 2009 FMX championship series; July 17: “Boys from Beaumont;” July 18: Jo Dee Messina; July 19: Demolition derby.

GREENE: July 7-13.

HAMILTON: July 21-26. Events – July 21: Fair parade followed by Sheltered Reality; July 22: Free feed; July 23: races; July 24: Imperial Stunt Drivers; July 25: races; July 26: Demolition derby.

HANCOCK: July 22-27. Events – July 23: The Johnny Holm Band; July 24: Stock/sprint car races; July 25: Homegrown Daredevils; July 26: Demolition derby.

HARDIN: July 8-12. Events – July 8: Louder Box; July 9: Rite-N-Gear Rodeo; July 10: Chuck wagon races; July 11: Figure 8 races; July 12: demolition derby.

HUMBOLDT: July 21-27. Events – July 21: Harness racing; July 22: Deal or No Deal; July 23: Queen Coronation, 4-H fashion review and Little Miss or Little Mr. Contest; July 24: Impact Pro Wrestling; July 25: CIATPA tractor pull plus local pickup pull; July 26: Moto X race and Tough Truck Challenge.

IDA: July 28-Aug. 3. Events – July 28: Queen Contest; July 29: Livestock judging contest; July 30: Share-The-Fun; July 31: Style show; Aug. 1: Open dog and pet show; Aug. 2: Ag Olympics.

KOSSUTH: Aug. 5-9.

LYON: July 13-16. Events – July 13: Great Plains tractor pull; July 14: Auto races; July 15: Figure 8 races.

MARSHALL: July 15-18. Events July 16: Neil Hewitt; July 17: Route 66; July 18: Pancake breakfast.

O’BRIEN: July 18-23. Events – July 20: King and Queen Contests, style show and Share-the-Fun; July 21: Hypnotist; July 22: Mud volleyball tournament.

OSCEOLA: July 15-18. Events – July 15: Share-the-Fun and fashion review; July 17: Great Plains tractor pull; July 18: Fair dance.

PALO ALTO: July 23-26.

PLYMOUTH: July 29-Aug. 2

POCAHONTAS: July 16-20. Events – July 16: Fair queen and Little Miss Pocahontas contest; July 18: 4-Wheeler pull; July 19: Teen dance.

POLK: July 15-20. Events – July 15: County Fair BBQ, king and queen crowning; July 16: Anything Goes Contest; July 17: Watermelon feed; July 18: Teen dance.

SAC: July 30-Aug. 2.

SIOUX: July 11-16.

STORY: July 24-29. Events July 25: Celebrity milk-off; July 26: Inspiration program; July 27: 4-H horse fun show; July 28: Speaker, Bill Northey, Iowa secretary of agriculture.

WEBSTER: July 8-13. Events – July 9: Hot Rod Garden tractor pull; July 10: Draft pony hitch pull; July 11: Moto Cross races; July 12: Figure 8 races.

WOODBURY: Aug. 5-9. Events – Aug. 5: Joe Dirt Moto Cross races; Aug. 6: Demolition derby, Tuff Truck and Figure 8 races; Aug. 7: Grand River Rodeo; Aug. 8: Outlaw tractor pull; Aug. 9: Demolition derby.

WRIGHT: July 8-13. Events – July 8: Fair parade; July 9: Bill Dewey; July 10: Jason Brown; July 11: Tractor pull; July 12: T&C Rodeo.

Contact Kriss Nelson at jknelson@frontiernet.net.

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