Clay County Fair and Events CEO and Manager Jeremy Parsons speaks behind podium.

Parsons: A 2020 Clay County Fair would not have lived up to reputation

The Clay County Fair, now postponed until 2021, would have been at risk of not living up to its reputation as “The World’s Greatest County Fair” had it been held this year. That realization, combined with fairgoer, staff, volunteer and vendor safety issues during the COVID-19 pandemic, eventually led fair officials to decide it was best to not hold a Clay County Fair in 2020. The decision was officially announced Thursday. At a press conference Thursday, Clay County Fair CEO and Manager Jeremy Parson said the 2020 fair, were it to happen, simply would not have been recognizable. “It just would have not been the same,” he said.

Clay County Fair and Events Center logo with tower gate and Ferris wheel

Clay County Fair survey gauges ‘comfort levels’ of attending 2020 event

Clay County Fair and Events officials want to know how comfortable people are with the idea of attending the Clay County Fair in 2020. As of now, the major annual event in Spencer is still on for September 12-20, but officials have sent out a survey to get more input. “A decision on what the 2020 fair will look like is going to require a pretty big toolbox of things to really kind of put together a full picture,” Clay County Fair and Events CEO and Manager Jeremy Parsons said. “And one of those tools that will be in the toolbox will be the results of the survey.”

The survey asks people to answer questions that will gauge their “comfort levels,” Parsons said, about attending the fair this year. It also tries to see what people may need to feel more comfortable at the fair. 

“That’s just one of the tools that we will be using as we plan for the 2020 fair,” Parsons said.

Spencer Mayor Kevin Robinson talks during a Facebook live broadcast on June 11 about COVID-19 in the community.

Mayor, county supervisor chair urge responsibility as COVID-19 cases increase

As Iowa begins to open up, Clay County and surrounding counties are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases. The Iowa Department of Public Health reported 59 confirmed cases in Clay County as of Friday evening. That’s an increase of 17 cases in a week. At a press conference Thursday, Spencer Mayor Kevin Robinson said the community’s COVID-19 task force, which meets daily and includes city, county and public health officials, expected the early June peak in cases. “We had prepared for that,” Robinson said.

Josh Turner

Josh Turner added to Clay County Fair Grandstand lineup

The Clay County Fair announces Josh Turner with special guest Dillon Carmichael as part of the SRG Concert Series in the Sleep Number Grandstand at the 2020 Clay County Fair on Thursday, September 17 at 7:30 p.m.

With his rich, deep voice and distinctive style, Josh Turner is one of country music’s most recognizable hit-makers. From his 2003 Platinum-selling debut Long Black Train to his 2017 Billboard No. 1 release, Deep South, Turner has scored multiple GRAMMY®, CMA and ACM Awards nominations and received six Inspirational Country Music Awards. As one of the youngest members inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, Turner has sold more than 8 million units and populated radio with such memorable hits as “Hometown Girl,” “Would You Go With Me,” “Your Man,” “Time Is Love,” “Why Don’t We Just Dance” and “Long Black Train.”

Growing up in the small town of Burgin, KY, Dillon Carmichael absorbed the musical life through osmosis: his father and uncles performed in a Southern Gospel Quartet, his mother sang all over the eastern part of the state, and his uncles (John Michael and Eddie Montgomery) both enjoyed massive chart success. The New York Times compared Carmichael to Randy Travis and said his rich baritone voice “moves with the heft and certainty of a tractor-trailer,” while NPR praised his “deep holler,” and Parade raved that “Carmichael defines pure country.”

Dillon Carmichael (photo provided)

Tickets will go on sale this Friday, April 3 at 10:00 a.m. Prices are $35 (general admission stage front seating), $30 (reserved Grandstand seating), and $25 (general admission bleacher seating).

community prayer outside 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit at Clay County Fair

Clay County Fair highlight: 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit

One must-see highlight of this year’s Clay County Fair is the 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit, which is open daily from 12-6 p.m.

The museum, a 53-foot tractor-trailer that expands into a 1,000-square-foot exhibit, educates visitors about the events that occurred on September 11, 2001. It’s a moving tribute to those who lost their lives that day, including the 343 FDNY members who made the ultimate sacrifice. On Wednesday, on the 18th anniversary of 9/11, community members gathered near the mobile exhibit, which is located next to the events center, for a prayer service. Almost 3,000 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center and at the Pentagon. As the volunteers who travel with the exhibit pointed out Wednesday, many first-responders and community members have since died of or are still suffering from health complications related to the attack.

Moto Maniacs family performers at Clay County Fair

Clay County Fair highlight: Moto Maniacs

Ivan España still gets a thrill from the high-flying, speed-seeking stunts he and his family put on as part of their act, Moto Maniacs – except the source of those thrills may not be what you’d expect. “There’s the thrill of being in a place,” he said Tuesday following a performance at the Clay County Fair. “Like, we got to perform in the Sydney Opera House. That’s a big thrill.”

But then there’s the audience. Ivan said the Moto Maniacs “feed off the audience.”