July of 2016 brings the 164th Great Jones County Fair to Eastern Iowa. Once the social event of the year for the county's rural families, it is now a week of midsummer magic that draws audiences from far and wide.
In its earliest days, farm families loaded their wagons with picnic baskets and prize produce to show their neighbors, and brought along their best livestock. Later, people from neighboring communities came by train, dressed in their Sunday best. The automobile brought still more people to the Fair, some camping on the golf course for the entire week.
Across the nation, county fairs have their roots in agriculture and are sustained by the active interest and participation of farm families. Jones County is no exception. It seems entirely appropriate that the 150th Great Jones County Fair coincided with the 100th anniversary of 4-H, which has guided millions of young farm people to a successful future. A former Jones County 4-H member told us, "When you grew up on a farm in Jones County, there were two things you knew you were going to do. One was go to church, and the other was join 4-H."
Agriculture is still the backbone of the Great Jones County Fair. In addition, an amazing slate of big-name entertainers sets the Fair apart. There are country stars. Comedy stars. Rock legends. Gold and platinum stars. Some on the way up. Most at the top. They pack the grandstands every night and back up traffic all the way to the airport. Combine this with the thrills and spills of stock car racing, demolition derby, harness racing, and the Midway's shows and rides. There is truly something for everyone.
All this is orchestrated every year by an incredible army of Jones County volunteers - people who have grown up at the Fair and are dedicated to continuing the tradition. Browse around and find out why thousands of Midwesterners call the Great Jones County Fair "the five best days of summer."
- Elinor Day