CCF opens Saturday
By KAREN SCHWALLER
SPENCER-Two new tractor lines being debuted, a smoke-free kiddie carnival ride area, 47 new vendors, an expanded outdoor exhibit area and more events after sundown are new to the eight-day, Clay County Fair, running today through Sept. 14.
The 2014 theme, “Only at the Fair,” said Jeremy Parsons, CCF manager, is geared to give fair-goers experiences that can only be found at the Clay County Fair.
The fair board, he said, has paved the way to provide more things to do.
“We feel it’s important to make this an affordable place for families to gather and have a good time,” said Parsons. “If you come to the fair between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., you’ll find a new free entertainment act starting every half hour.
“We’re offering fair-goers more than $130,000 in free entertainment acts on our many stages on the fairgrounds.”
Parsons said the CCF features the largest farm machinery and ag equipment show of any fair in the United States and that agriculture and ag education remains a constant theme.
He said two new lines of tractors will make their debuts during this year’s nine-day run-BTZ tractors manufactured in Belarus, and Mahrinda Tractors, manufactured in India.
He said this year’s fair will feature increased livestock numbers for 4-H and FFA, with 860 exhibitors coming from 42 counties in Iowa and Minnesota, showing 2,300 head.
Last year, that number was 800 exhibitors from 38 counties, showing 2,000 head. Open class livestock numbers show increases in beef, dairy and swine over 2013’s fair.
The ISU Extension ag education program, Ag-Citing, will return to the fair, bringing in third-grade students from across northwest Iowa to have a hands-on experience in learning about agriculture.
That will be combined with Sci-Citing, another ISU Extension program which teaches area fourth-graders about science at the fair.
“There is a lot of science at the fair-in carnival rides (physics), in agriculture and in GPS technology in tractors,” said Parsons. “We should see 1,200 to 1,300 school kids on our grounds with those two programs.”
The 2014 crop walk will be featured behind Grandpa’s Barn. There are short rows of corn, soybeans and assorted vegetables that fair-goers can walk through and experience what it would be like to be in a field.
“Though we live in the heart of crop production in this part of the United States, a lot of people have never walked through a soybean field or corn field,” said Parsons. “There will be signage there explaining the crops and what they mean.”
Parsons said some of those crops have been fertilized and some have not, just to show people the difference in how the crops look and produce with – and without – fertilizer.
“The hardest part of that project was finding a six-row planter,” Parsons said.
Other ag promotions will be in Central Park, where a different ag theme will be featured each day. This includes:
A). Saturday – Iowa Wind Energy Day.
B). Sunday – Iowa Soybean Day.
C). Wednesday – Iowa Corn Day.
D). Thursday – Thank A Farmer Day.
E). Sept. 12 – Iowa Dairy Day.
People can learn about these ag industries in Iowa with information and hands-on experiences.
A World Class Fair
The CCF is the second-largest fair and the second-largest tourism event in Iowa, according to Parsons, adding that it is one of the 100 largest fairs in North America.
“While we’re known as a fair in little Spencer, Iowa,” Parsons said, “in the big scope of things, we’re a very large fair and a very large event.”
Proof of that came in a recent economic impact study, funded by the CCF, which indicated the fair creates a $6.2 million economic stimulus on the local community.
Parsons said that figure is “very conservative.”
More activities after sundown include a ranch rodeo today, a professional barrel racing event on Tuesday-which will feature 60 cowgirls from four states competing in that regional points event – and a horse whisperer on Wednesday and Thursday.
Parsons said all of the fair’s free entertainment acts will have at least one performance after 5 p.m. each day on various plazas and stages around the fairgrounds, and there will be evening concerts in the Dish Plaza.
Parsons said Bunny Hopping will be part of this year’s fair, showcasing how rabbits can jump over (mini) fences like horses jump real fences.
The CCF will feature 520 vendors. Parsons compared that to the Iowa State Fair that features 600 vendors, and the Minnesota State Fair which features 650 vendors.
He said there are 250 applications on file for vendors wanting to have a spot at the CCF. Parsons also compared carnival ride numbers, with the CCF featuring 33 rides.
The Iowa State Fair features 36 rides.
This year’s fair features 50,000 square feet of new outdoor exhibit space located just inside Gate C. That’s part of the 35 total acres of outdoor exhibit area.
The fair will feature more than 60 food vendors with all kinds of “stuff on a stick,” Parsons said.
The historic Gate A entrance with the fair towers has been renovated this year and will be lit up at night.
“Those towers are the oldest thing on our fairgrounds,” said Parsons, adding they were constructed in time for the first Clay County Fair in 1918. “It cost around $40,000 and the money was raised by the fair’s charitable trust.”
Parsons said with that first project completed for the fair’s centennial, projects to focus include updating the 1968 Industrial Building, paving streets and burying cables in the food court.
The livestock entrance gate will be redone in time for next year’s fair. He said plans are also in the works to put a roof over the outdoor arena to make it a more all-weather arena, and better showcase events held there, such as the draft horse show.
“This year there are eight six-horse draft teams entered in the fair,” Parsons said.
Elizabeth Glover, 17, Spencer, will reign over the CCF not only as Clay County Fair queen, but as the 2014 Iowa State Fair Queen. She is the daughter of Louis and Lois Glover, of Spencer, and is a senior at Spencer High School.
“It’s fun to represent the county I grew up in and to represent this amazing event held in our county each year,” said Glover. “I get to be queen for two of the greatest fairs in Iowa.”
Glover said the experience has been surreal and that she hopes to get out to many county fairs in the coming year.
“I want to show people how awesome it is to live in this great state,” Glover said.
In 2007, Abby Salton was the last Clay County Fair queen to wear the tiara of Iowa’s State Fair Queen.
The MPA Truck Pull Nationals on Sept. 13 will make its CCF debut on Sept. 13.
For more information about the CCF, visit www.claycountyfair.com.
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