‘The World’s Greatest County Fair’ is Also the Largest One Held in Iowa
When it debuted 105 years ago it did so in grand fashion. It hasn't slowed down.
September 24, 1918, was the date of the beginning of the first Clay County Fair in Spencer, in northwest Iowa. Over the next four days, the fair would attract a crowd of over 30,000 people.
After its first year, the Clay County Fair's explosion of growth happened very quickly. I guess we shouldn't be surprised it's turned into the largest county fair in Iowa.
In 1919, the fair drew approximately 48,500 people over four days and, in 1928, just a decade after it debuted, 110,105 people came through the gates. It was that year that the Clay County Fair became known as 'The World's Greatest County Fair.' The slogan still continues to this day.
By 1931, the fair had a new grandstand that would seat 5,000. The grandstand is still being used today and the fair now has a farm machinery/agribusiness display area that covers... get this... 35 acres! According to the Clay County Fair, it's "the largest such display of any fair in the United States or Canada." As you can see, the fair also boasts a whole lot of food vendors.
Now let's talk numbers. Last year's Clay County Fair drew a total of 325,585 people. That was just over 9,000 short of the all-time record of 334,575, set in 2013. Topping more than 300,000 people each year, its attendance far exceeds other county fairs across the state.
The Clay County Fair says people spent $3,040,177.45 at the fair in 2022, an all-time record.
The 9-day fair has a rich history when it comes to live performers. You can see the list, dating back to 1965, here. The 2023 fair is held from September 9 through 17. The grandstand schedule for this year's Clay County Fair is below.
- Saturday, September 9: Parmalee with Thompson Square
- Sunday, September 10: Katy Nichole with Community Worship Collaborative
- Monday, September 11: Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone with The Assocation
- Tuesday, September 12: Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Cars & SLMR Late Models
- Wednesday, September 13: IMCA Blue Ribbon Showdown
- Thursday, September 14: Jo Dee Messina with Diamond Rio
- Friday, September 15: Hairball
- Saturday, September 16: Dylan Scott with Ingrid Andress
- Sunday, September 17: Outlaw Truck and Tractor Pull