Beating The Heat-McKenna Stevens

Keeping her cow cool at last year's Clinton County Fair is McKenna Stevens, of DeWitt. 

This year’s Clinton County Fair will look different than its predecessors, but it will happen.

The Iowa State Extension and Outreach Office will host its typical livestock club show and activities throughout the week during the day beginning Friday, July 10. Livestock shows will get underway Monday, July 13. Fair Manager Mary Stevenson said that portion of the fair will remain consistent.

In the wake of the Iowa State Fair’s cancellation, local fair boards have wrestled with the decision to host annual events. Both the Jackson County Fair and Clinton County Fair have in recent weeks decided to open their respective fairs to the public. 

Michele Cullen with the Clinton County Health Department said she and Stevenson discussed measures that can be taken to ensure public safety at this year’s fair. 

“I think Clinton County (Fair Board) did a good job taking those considerations in and taking some of the recommendations to keep the public safe,” Cullen said. “I think they are trying to keep the people safe. Hopefully all of that will work out.”

Cullen’s recommendations fell in line with those from the Centers for Disease Control and include frequent handwashing and social distancing, Stevenson said.

“You have to take into consideration the risk of the population, and you encourage people to use personal protective measures.” Cullen said. 

A difficult decision

Stevenson admitted the decision to abbreviate the goings-on was difficult. 

She and the fair board have, for the past month, worked in tandem with the ISU Extension Office to organize the fair’s format. Stevenson said she’s happy to put the difficult decisions behind her. 

“I am just ready to move forward and get on with it,” she said. “I’m glad we have made some decisions. Hopefully people will support those decisions.”

Clinton County Fair Board President Dan Wagener said the fair board made its decision by casting votes pertaining to multiple aspects of the fair.

“We voted on several aspects of the fair,” he said. “From the 4-H shows to how we are handling food and all that.”

Stevenson answers to the board. The Clinton County Fair Board has 14 members: President Dan Wagener, Vice President Mike Goodall, Treasurer Bob Gannon, Megan Burke, Dan Burzlaff, Mike Conard, Jackie Crowley, Chris Goldensoph, Jason Kuehn, Sharon Leonard, Chris McCulloh, Dab Paysen, Travis Schroeder and Hunter Wagener.

New fair schedule

The fair’s format will be different this year. No events will take place on the fairgrounds before 5 p.m. except the regularly-scheduled livestock and non-livestock shows and activities.

“The Extension will basically have the fairgrounds until 5 p.m.,” Stevenson said. “We are trying to keep the crowd to a minimum during their time.”

Entertainment will take precedence in the evenings, especially over the July 17-19 weekend.

The auditorium will be open to view 4-H projects from 5-8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3-7 p.m. on Sunday.

After 5 p.m., several attractions will be available to the public including mini golf from 5-8 p.m. in the commercial exhibits building. 

The Clinton County Cattlemen will serve ribeye sandwiches Friday and Saturday nights beginning at 5 p.m.

The traditional non-perishable food drive will once again take place; items will be collected for local food pantries. A collection container will be centrally located on the grounds for fairgoers to drop off contributions.

First Central State Bank will be purchasing wristbands for all 4-H and FFA members.

Daytime events that will not happen this year include the creative arts show, DeWitt Town and Country Garden Club Flower Show, vegetable contest, commercial exhibitors, Antiques and Uniques Appraisal Show, Bill Reilly Talent Show, the annual Clinton County Supervisors meeting from the fair, queen contest, and the swine farrowing display.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday night grandstand entertainment is still planned to go on as usual. Friday, July 17 the East Central Iowa Pullers Association will host a tractor pull at 7 p.m. At 7 p.m. Saturday night will be the Fantasy Truck Pullers, and then Sunday, July 19, the Iowa Viola Boyz will put on its annual demolition derby. That event will begin around 3 p.m.

“We are going to tape off the bleachers every 18 inches or so to indicate seats,” Stevenson said of the evening events. “That way people can use that as a guideline to social distance.”

Admission to the fair will be free during the day. Daily admission will be $10 after 4 p.m. for ages 10 and up. Season passes will be $20 again, Stevenson said.

The fair board is seeking volunteers to help maintain the mini golf game, host events in the auditorium, as well as staff the food stand, beer barn, and admission gates. The board is also looking for volunteers to assist with sanitizing and cleaning fair grounds throughout entirety of the event. 

Anyone interested can contact the fair office at (563) 659-1624.