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  • Melody Lager

Wright County Junior District Fair


"Going to the fair was a huge community event for years, as the various fairs provided

days of entertainment and competition. At one time, a fair was held in Clarion, but

sometime in the mid-1920's was moved to Eagle Grove. By 1929, the Eagle Grove

paper reported that buildings were going up in Greenwood Park. The fair was

competition for 4-H and FFA members, and open classes allowed adults to show off their

best talents.


Barns at one time were busting at the seams with cattle, hogs, sheep, and poultry.

Horses came and went with the different types of shows they entered. The "girls" 4-H

building was also filled, depending on the year's focus, with food, clothing, or home

improvement items. While the boys worked with their animals - teaching them to lead or

herd, teaching them to stand just right, bathing and brushing them to perfection, the girls

honed their skills in the home. Certainly the food years were enjoyed by the entire

family, as the girls practiced their baking skills over and over, until everything was just

right!


4-H families got to work on exhibits as soon as school let out for the summer. The "fair

books" were eagerly snatched up as as soon as they came out, to check the classes that

could be entered. A clothing year might have "skirts", "dresses", "outfits" whereas a food

year might be "cakes", 'breads", "cookies", and so on. It seemed each 4-H'er strived to

enter as many classes as possible! After entry, one or more days were reserved for

judging the items, and ribbons were given out. A purple ribbon usually signified the item

was going to the state fair - the other ribbons, blue, red, and white signified first, second

and third place.


Come fair time, the grounds bustled with excitement. With each of the buildings full, a

day could be used just to look at the talents and discussing the merits of one cow vs.

another. In addition to the barns and girls' building, was a horticulture and open class

building. There, flowers and vegetables lined up to be judged, and adult entries filled

tables. Another building boasted area businesses, eager to share their information. And

then there was the Grandstand! Days and nights were booked with shows - rodeos,

races, tractor pulls and singers. Contests- Fair queen, rooster calling, yodeling brought

friendly laughter. Finally - the mid-way beckoned - ferris wheel, merry-go-round, tilt-awhirl

and other amusements rides lit up the sky at night.


The fair still offers days of fun and exhibits, but the barns are not as full. As the family

farms have dwindled, so has the number of children in 4-H. In an effort to attract more

town children into entering 4-H, the fair now has rabbits, more poultry, photography, and

even a dog show. Girls and boys are encouraged to enter animals and other items.

There is still plenty to see and do! Wander thru the exhibits and look at the hard work

the kids have done - some of it is amazing! Grab some cotton candy and have lunch at

one of the stands, then finish up with some pie and ice cream before you head for

home. Enjoy a tradition that is over 100 years old!

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Heartland Museum

119 SW 9th St

PO Box 652

Clarion, IA   50525

515-602-6000

heartlandclarion@gmail.com

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