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By Staff | Jul 30, 2009

One of the popular grandstand events at the North Iowa Fair was Saturday afternoon’s chuck wagon races that run somewhere between mayhem and chaos as it almost seems as if it’s every man, and horse, for himself.

Newly hired North Iowa Fair Manager Wanda Kruse knew she had a big job facing her to rebuild the support and attendance of the fair to what it was several years ago. To achieve this required a gamble by increasing the fair’s expense budget; then hope that vendors, sponsors, community members and weather all worked together for last week’s fair run.

The 2009 North Iowa Fair ran its course last week and Wanda Kruse said the gamble paid off. She and the fair board “are very, very tickled with what happened,” she said.

One of Wanda Kruse’s innovations was the Pay One Price pass that allowed a purchaser to attend 10 events for the single price of $25. Selling a sufficient number of passes was a key component in her plan to raise income for the fair which has a free gate. There was good acceptance of the Pay One Price pass and it will be continued next year, she said.

This was the second year for the Kinney Lindstrom Little Farmer, a corner of the fairgrounds dedicated to introducing children to how food is grown and how it gets to the grocery store. Children travel a course with stops enroute to show them what happens at a dairy, the growing and selling of crops and vegetables, to introduce them to food production.

At the end of the course the children put what they have harvested in baskets and get a reward for “selling their products.”

Mariah Steenhard, 6, of Rockwell, sat with her calf, Blossom, July 23 at the North Iowa Fair. Blossom was entered in the bucket calf contest and Mariah believes she has been showing in the contest for four years.

Wanda Kruse estimated 2,500 children went through the Kinney Lindstrom Little Farmer display, based on what was handed out at the course’s beginning. Kruse said the Little Farmer area is in need of more volunteers for next year to assist the children.

One reason that Wanda Kruse attributed the fair’s increased attendance was a wide range of entertainment occurring at the same time. It is a concept she will use in planning for next year’s fair. Two free shows, Wild About Monkeys and Rain Forest Experience, were well attended for every performance.

Possible changes for next year Wanda Kruse is considering includes more diversity in musical performances and changing the timing of events to be responsive to the fair goers’ own schedules.

Kruse is encouraging people to contact her with ideas and suggestions for next year’s fair. One measure of renewed support for the fair is that she was approached as the fair was occurring with new ideas for next year from fair attendees.

Reflecting on this year’s hectic pace as a new fair manager, Wanda Kruse expressed a wish that next year she might get 10 minutes to enjoy each event.

Brody Lee, 3, son of John and Abigail Lee, of Mason City, drops off his harvest at the final stop of the Kinney Lindstrom Small Farmer area, part of the North Iowa Fairgrounds.

No fair can run without volunteers and Kruse is seeking help from anyone who wants to pitch in to ensure a successful North Iowa Fair for next year.

Contact Clayton Rye by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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