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Clay County Fair continues its growth

Sept. 11 will be remembered during event's annual run

By Jean Caspers-Simmet

simmet@agrinews.com

SPENCER, Iowa -- Agriculture is playing a bigger role than ever at the Clay County Fair, which begins Sept. 7 in Spencer and continues through Sept. 15.

"We're already the largest agribusiness fair in the nation in terms of the area we have and the number of exhibitors,'' said Phil Hurst, the fair's secretary/manager. "This year, we'll have 550 ag exhibitors, more than we've ever had. Overall, our livestock numbers are at the highest they've ever been.''

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To accommodate all the livestock, fair organizers will add tents and do other creative things to find a space for everyone.

Hurst isn't sure why agricultural exhibits and livestock numbers are up, but he can't help but believe that the terrorist strike during last year's fair has something to do with it.

"I think it made people have more resolve that something like a terrorist attack would not be able to diminish the Clay County Fair,'' he said.

Spirit of America

The fair will observe Spirit of America Day on Sept. 11.

"At first we were afraid 9/11 would totally kill the fair last year,'' Hurst said. "But people did such a great job of responding. The last part of the fair ended up being a very positive experience. We want to honor the way all American citizens responded to those tough situations.''

The fair will collect nonperishable food items at the gate Sept. 11. Anyone who brings a food item will receive a $1.50 off normal admission. Food will be donated to Upper Des Moines Opportunity, an organization that stocks food pantries.

That evening there will be a Flags across America presentation prior to the Righteous Brothers concert. After the concert, a video presentation about Sept. 11 is planned, and the Twin Tower lights will be shown. Fireworks will follow.

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The fair will honor veterans on Sept. 9. A veteran's parade at 10:30 a.m. and all the shows held that day will honor and thank veterans. They will receive special recognition at the evening's PRCA Rodeo.

On Sept. 15 the fair will celebrate the 100th birthday of 4-H.

This marks the first year that the Stables will house the fair's Agricultural Learning Center. The building, located west of the barns, was moved to the fairgrounds several years ago from the well-known Stubb's Restaurant in Spencer and has been renovated.

"Our Ag Learning Center had been in the top of the agriculture building, but it wasn't accessible to everyone,'' Hurst said.

Busy Stables

The Stables will house the Ag Citing Program, which teaches 1,300 third and fourth graders about the importance of agriculture. The Ag Citing Program is a joint effort between Iowa Lakes Community College, Iowa State University Extension, 4-H and Iowa Lakes Community College.

The Stables will also have numerous agricultural exhibits each day of the fair. Iowa Lakes Community College will feature "Experts at the Stables.''

On Sept. 9, Farm Equipment and Diesel Technology will demonstrate new technology related to farm machinery and diesel engines. Automotive Technology and Marine, Motorcycle and Small Engine Technology will be available on Sept. 10.

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Agriculture Production Technology will cover the latest in beef, swine and crop issues on Sept. 11. Environmental studies students will offer free well water testing at their booth in the Stables from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 12. The Criminal Justice program will offer fingerprinting for children on Sept. 13.

The upstairs of the agriculture building will include agricultural programs and exhibits by Iowa Lakes Community College and will also be home to the new Tator Nationals.

"We'll have a pinewood derby race track and people will be able to build race cars out of potatoes and race them,'' Hurst said. "The finals will be the last Sunday of the fair. The first day of the fair, a group of area celebrities will establish the qualifying times.''

Iowa Lakes Community College, through its Agriculture Production Swine Technology Program, will have baby pigs in the Swine barn from Sept. 7 until noon Sept. 10. Children can hold baby pigs and have their pictures taken with them.

Grandstand concerts are Lonestar with the Marie Sisters Sept. 7; Randy Travis with Tammy Cochran Sept. 8; the Righteous Brothers Sept. 11; Plus One with Souljahz Sept. 12; Clint Black with Shannon Brown on Sept. 13; and Lynyrd Skynyrd Sept. 14.

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