WRIGHT COUNTY, Iowa -- Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey is going to the fair this week. It's not yet time for the Iowa State Fair, but it is time for Iowa's county fairs.
Northey is on a tour of five county fairs in central Iowa. His visit includes the Wright County Fair in Eagle Grove, the Webster County Fair in Ft. Dodge, the Calhoun County Fair in Rockwell City, the Greene County Fair in Jefferson, and Friday the Marshall County Fair in Marshalltown.
Northey knows something about county fairs in Iowa. As a kid he showed cattle in 4-H competitions at the Dickinson County Fair in Spirit Lake. Northey says the fair taught more when he didn't take home a first place ribbon. He says that getting the blue ribbon is very hard to do, "that makes it all the sweeter."
The idea that kids can learn more when they don't win is one Dean Kluss believes in. He is President of the Wright County Fair Board. "There are failures in life, and learning how to deal with this, that's what it's all about," he said. Leaders try to help the kids understand what they can do better next year to either improve their showing, or even win first place.
"The huge focus has always stayed here to be the kids of Wright County and surrounding counties," said Tricia Rosendahl, Manager of the Wright County Fair. She and Kluss were giving Northey a tour of the fair showing a new exhibition barn.
The State's chief ag executive says these county fairs are very important, not just for farm kids, but for those who are not in rural settings to come and learn about what goes on for those who do work the farms. Northey says "county fairs are important not only for the present but for the future of Iowa agriculture."