SPENCER, Iowa — Despite five days of measurable precipitation and numerous event cancellations due to weather conditions, “The World’s Greatest County Fair” was able to beat Mother Nature with smiling fairgoers and stellar family programming, September 7-15.
“I have always known that our guests were some of the most loyal and passionate fairgoers anywhere,” said Fair Manager Jeremy Parsons, “and this year they proved it by their positive attitudes and faithful attendance – rain or shine.”
Fairgoers reacted favorably to many programming changes, including free daily admission for children 12 and under; the 9/11 Never Forget mobile exhibit; Tiny Town, the new interactive play experience for young fairgoers; new competitive classes in the open class draft horse show; Balloon Masters’ farm-related sculpture in the Ag Marketplace; the Fair Foodie Challenge; and nearly $250,000 in capital improvements.
“We were thrown several curveballs particularly in the Sleep Number Grandstand during this year’s Fair,” he said. “However, fairgoers were so patient and supportive as we worked through those issues, especially a concert refund process and the addition of bag checks.”
Parsons continued that the success of the 2019 Clay County Fair can be measured in several metrics, including:
- According to data from surveys conducted by Iowa Lakes Community College, 70% of fairgoers said they were “very satisfied” with the Fair.
- Additionally, 90.5% of those surveyed said they “definitely would” or were “very likely” to recommend attending the Fair to their friends and family.
- 806 4-H and FFA exhibitors from 46 counties in Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska participated in livestock and human sciences events at the Fair.
- 1,045 third and fourth grade students from 14 regional schools visited the Fair as part of the AgCiting and SciCiting field trip programs coordinated by ISU Extension Clay County.
- Fairgoer spending on food, beverage, specialty concessions, and carnival rides totaled $2,223,998.58 (down approximately 2.5 percent from 2018).
- When Mother Nature cooperated, fairgoer spending responded by setting three single-day records for Tuesday (Sept. 10), Friday (Sept. 13), and the second Sunday (Sept. 15).
- 497 commercial exhibitors, concessionaires, and vendors showcased at the Fair. With at least 150 ag-specific exhibitors, the Fair again hosted the largest farm machinery and ag equipment show at any fair in the United States.
- 1,384 exhibitors participated in various open class livestock and non-livestock competitions and took home nearly $100,000 in premiums, ribbons, trophies, and awards.
- Despite the cancellation of the Foreigner concert on September 7, the Sleep Number Grandstand attracted 17,368 fairgoers to multiple stage performances and dirt events. The top two attended events were the final appearance of Chuckwagon Races (4,025-two sessions) and Jon Pardi with special guest Jake Rose (3,451).
- Overall Fair attendance totaled 296,998 (down roughly 4 percent from 2018’s attendance number of 308,603). Complete daily attendance numbers can be found at www.claycountyfair.com.
“Inclement weather, which of course is completely out of the Fair’s control, is always the number one factor that affects attendance,” said Parsons. “While the rain may have affected which day our passionate fairgoers attended, it is obvious that they still came out and enjoyed the Fair.”
2019 was the second year that estimated daily attendance numbers were not released during the Fair so a more accurate attendance number could be provided following the Fair.
More detailed information on the 2019 Clay County Fair will be made available at the Clay County Fair Association’s annual meeting on October 29. Lifetime memberships to the Fair Association are available for $100. Call (712) 580-3000 for more information.
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 300,000 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 claycountyfair.com.
— Clay County Fair
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