Fair Board requests $25,000, reports fair week lineup is looking ‘pretty good’

(Originally published in the January 25 Public Opinion, available in print and online. Certain content is presented first to subscribers (print and digital), then released for consumption later)

The Winneshiek County Fair is getting bigger and better. Arlin Franzen of the Winneshiek County Fair Board presented the fair’s FY25 funding request, in the amount of $25,000, to the county’s Board of Supervisors Jan. 22 during their regular meeting. 

“One of the reasons we’re asking for a little more than what we’ve been getting is, if you look at county averages, we’re still asking for less than what the county averages are,” Franzen said. “We’re at 32,000 attendance, and we’re only asking for $25,000, which is under the average, and it’s actually less than a buck a person. And, this is just for the one week of the fair, too. We have other events going on there throughout the year.”

According to information from the Association of Iowa Fairs, which Franzen shared during the meeting, the average Iowa county fair receives $30,000 in funding each year for an average attendance of just over 21,000 per county.

Franzen said this year’s fair week lineup is looking “pretty good” again, with a dog show starting off the week and a new free event in the grandstands Monday night. Like last year, the races will be held Tuesday night, and the rodeo will be held Wednesday. The Thursday night grandstand entertainment will be the tractor pull, and Joe Nichols will perform Friday night. Franzen said the fair board believes Saturday’s entertainment is  “locked in”, but it cannot be announced until a specific date due to the terms of the contract.

Also returning this year are Fair Buttons, Franzen said during the meeting, which cost $25 in advance for Tuesday-Thursday and $50 for the full week. For the 2023 Winneshiek County Fair, up to 3,800 50-dollar buttons were sold, and about 1,000 of the three-day buttons were sold, Franzen reported, adding that the fairgrounds aren’t only used for the fair, and it’s the board’s goal to help all the county’s residents.

“Every day of the year, we got something going on,” Franzen said. “It’s just unbelievable — the amount of stuff that goes on there. And, this money isn’t just benefiting us. Everything we do is passed on to everyone else in the county.”

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