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Jasper County Fair comes to a close

The Jasper County Fair came to a close on Thursday, July 25, sending weary attendees back to their respective corners of the county after a week chalk-full of cool weather, music, food, animal shows and fun.

Monday afternoon saw attendees flock from around the county with their families in tow for the classic Kids’ Day events, not to be complete without blow-up attractions, water balloon wars, tie-dyeing, round two of the Oreo stacking contest and much more. Marcus McIntosh, a news anchor famous in Iowa for his time with KCCI News Channel 8, came out and read aloud to the children for several hours.

The day then culminated in the Jasper County Fair Parade, a classic parade that routes through the Colfax downtown area.

As the parade wound through Colfax, dark clouds rumbled along the northern horizon line, threatening to rain out the event in a moment’s notice.

According to State Sen. Dennis Black, the weather would have marked the first time the Jasper County Fair Parade had been rained out in a number of decades, but the weather never came as it skirted just to the north of Colfax for hours, only cancelling out the evening’s chainsaw auction and awards ceremony.

Due to the inclement weather Monday evening, the chainsaw auction as well as the awards ceremonies were pushed back to coincide with the livestock auction.

Chainsaw art ranging from owl sculptures to various boards featuring John Deere and Harley Davidson art, as well as Iowa sports teams, fetched prices from $300 up to nearly $1,000.

After the chainsaw art auction, members of the Fair Board gave out several awards to both attendees and volunteers for their services or distinction in the field of agricultural.

Each year, one of the most notable awards given out is the Friend of the Fair Award.

“We use it to recognize those that give more time than they need to for the fair,” said Reed Hiemstra, a member of the Fair Board.

“These people are always willing to help … It’s the sort of folks that you never have to ask, and they just step up and take care of what needs to be done,” he said. “One guy used to come out to plow the snow here for years … We never called him, he’d just come and do it. Really a huge help.”

So no one in the crowd was surprised, aside from the winner himself, when this year’s award went to John Jennings, an area photographer and former reporter for the Newton Daily News, who has been covering the Jasper County Fair and shooting photos for the event since 1999.

Dan Wasson, president of the Fair Board, saluted Jennings for his dedication to the fair over the years and Rhonda Guy delivered the award.

Jennings said the award was an honor and that he was far from done with his time at the fair, which had started well before his stint at the Newton Daily News.

“I grew up in Prairie City, so I was a Prairie City Champion in the 4-H club and used to show down at the fair when I was younger … I had feeder cattle and a horse that I’d show,” Jennings said.

Over the last few years, he honed his role at the fair, arriving each day and announcing that he was available for photos before he would hang out at the picture board to meet the fair champions and get their pictures. After his time at the photo board, Jennings would roam the fairgrounds, taking in all of the activities and doing his best to capture the spirit of the fair.

“It’s very nice (receiving the award). It came as a complete surprise,” said Jennings. “Rhonda has been so good to work with over the years, so when she asked me to come take pictures for the fair board, I couldn’t say no to her … All of the Fair Board members have been great to work with.”

Tuesday and Wednesday saw some of the fair’s largest show events, primarily the swine show on Tuesday followed by the market and breeding beef shows on Wednesday, as well as the bottle calf shows later that afternoon.

Tim Vanden Hoek is an area attendee who has seen two children through their 4-H years at the Jasper County Fair and used to participate when he was a young boy, as well.

“The bottle calf show is one of my favorites,” Vanden Hoek said. “It’s hilarious, sometimes the kids or the calves will fall asleep right there … the best thing is watching the little kids working with their projects. They’re engaged with their parents and doing things most kids wouldn’t think to do.”

Wednesday also featured some of the other, more light-hearted events. Finalists from the previous three days of competition squared off in the Oreo stacking contest, teams of 4-H and FFA member duked it out in a dodgeball tournament and young men from around the county strutted their stuff in the Mr. Legs competition.

Jordan Hiney, a 2013 Baxter graduate, left it all on the walkway as he modeled in his Speedo swimsuit to win a bet against his family and friends. Hiney won his heat in the event, but more importantly, walked away with cash in hand from the bet.

“Oh yeah, it was a lot of fun,” Hiney said.

Thursday closed out the fair with the goat and dairy shows wrapping up the last of the 4-H showing events in the morning.

At noon, the open exhibits were released back to the contestants and then many of the fair’s attendees started packing up for home, while some stayed on for the evening’s Farm Credit Services sale supper and the livestock auction.

Participants had the opportunity to auction off some of the livestock that they had shown to the Jasper County public, an event which local agricultural businessman John McLaughlin said is a great chance to get the children involved as the adults bid on their livestock.

The auction closed down, dispersing the participants back to their homes or to the final evening’s family movie night and teen dance before the fair came to an official close at midnight, leaving attendees looking forward to 2014.

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