World’s Greatest County Fair: A Siouxlander’s guide to the 2021 Clay County Fair

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SPENCER, Iowa (KCAU) — The Clay County Fair is speedily approaching, and Siouxlanders might be wondering more about what’s all happening at the event some deem “The World’s Greatest County Fair.”

The first modern Clay County Fair was held in 1918, six weeks before the Armistice of World War I. The fair went from September 24 to 27, drawing more than 30,000 people and taking in a total gate receipt of $16,000.

Since then, the fair has become a staple in Siouxland, drawing nearly 300,000 guests a year. Here is what Siouxlanders should know about the 2021 Clay County Fair.

Location

The fair is located just off Highway 71 and Highway 18 in Spencer.

The fairgrounds are located on the north end of Spencer.

Courtesy of claycountyfair.com

Parking

There is free parking in the Growmark FS North Lot, north of West 18th Street. Paved Handicapped Parking is located in the North Lot. Accessibility carts run free of charge to assist visitors onto the grounds.

Paid parking is available in the Silver Lot across from Gate A, east of 4th Avenue West, or in the Purple Lot, south of West 18th Street. Parking is on a first-come, first serve basis and is $6 per day.

Hours/Admission

The 2021 Clay County Fair is September 11 to 19. Fairgrounds open daily at 7 a.m. Most buildings and exhibits will be opened from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. from September 11 to 18 and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on September 19. Outdoor farm machinery and ag equipment exhibits are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. all days of the fair.

Regular fair-time admission at the gate runs at $10 for ages 13 and up from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. After 5 p.m., admission is only $6. Children 12 and under are able to get into the fair for free at anytime.

The fair is also offering discount days. The list of discount days is as follows:

DAYADMISSION FEE
Veterans Appreciation Day (September 13)Veterans and Active Military have free admission
Senior Day (September 14)Ages 65 & over can get in the fair for $6
Family Night (September 14)Everyone has free admission after 5 p.m.
Kids Day (September 17)Kids 18 and under have free admission
Last Chance Day (September 19)$7 admission for those ages 13 and over

The GoldStar Amusements Midway opens at 10 a.m., September 11 to 12, 17 to 19, and at 4 p.m., September 13 to 16. Fairgoers can purchase wristbands for unlimited rides. VIP wristbands are $50 in advance, $55 at the fair and are valid all nine days of the fair. All-Day wristbands are $25 in advance, $30 at the fair and are only good for one day only on September 11 to 12, 17 to 19.

Advance wristbands available at participating Godfather’s Pizza restaurants, Events Center Box Office, by phone 515-244-2771, or online here.

Grandstand Lineup

Starting on Saturday, September 11, concerts will be held at the Clay County Grandstand. Tickets can be purchased here. The lineup is as follows:

DATE & TIMEBANDGENRE
September 11, 7: 30 p.m.Skillet Christian Rock
September 12, 7:30 p.m.Herman’s Hermits w/special guest Gary Lewis & The PlayboysBeat Rock
September 13, 7:30 p.m.Tracy Lawrence & Mark ChestnuttCountry
September 16, 7:30 p.m.Josh Turner w/special guest Dillon Carmichael Country
September 17, 7:30 p.m.Darci Lynne w/special guest Renata Entertainment
September 18, 7:30 p.m. Ryan Hurd w/special guest Big Time Grain CompanyCountry

Ticket prices vary from show to show. Prices can be seen at the Clay County Fair website. Grandstand seating can be seen down below.

Courtesy of claycountyfair.com

Activities

Central Park will host a number of activities starting September 11, including the Fair’s first Hispanic Festival with Rey De Rancho performing.

ACTIVITYDAY
World’s Greatest County Fair Food ContestSeptember 11
Hispanic FestivalSeptember 12
Iowa Corn DaySeptember 16
Iowa Dairy DaySeptember 17
Science SaturdaySeptember 18

There will also be antique cars and tractor displays, as well as different spots the whole family can enjoy. The list can be seen here.

Dirt Events

Between concert performances, the Grandstand will also host fan-favorite dirt events, from tractor pulls to sprint cars starting on September 14.

EVENTDAYTIME
Antique Tractor PullSeptember 148:00 a.m.
Battle of the Blue RibbonSeptember 147:00 p.m.
IMCA Blue Ribbon ShowdownSeptember 157:00 p.m.
Outlaw Truck & Tractor Pullers AssociationSeptember 191:00 p.m.
5:30 p.m.

To see the daily schedules for each day of the fair, click here. Other activities can be seen here.

Food Vendors

The Clay County Fairs has 77 locations for fairgoers to grab a bite to eat. From corn dogs and turkey legs to specialty grilled cheese sandwiches and funnel cakes, anyone at the fair shouldn’t go hungry.

On top of different kinds of food vendors, there will also be concessions available for fairgoers.

A full list of food stops can be seen here.

COVID-19 Protocol

The fair said protocols will be based on Iowa Department of Public Health and CDC guidelines that are in effect in September of 2021.

Proof of vaccination and masks are not required for fairgoers, staff, volunteers, or exhibitors. However, masks are recommended for those who are unvaccinated, especially indoors.

Even though social distancing is encouraged, there are no plans for any capacity restrictions on the fairgrounds or in any buildings.  

Upcoming Dates

For those who like looking ahead, the dates for the next three Clay County Fairs have been announced. The dates are:

  • September 10-18, 2022
  • September 9-17, 2023
  • September 7-15, 2024

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