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Opening day at Iowa State Fair

Locals prep for state fair contests

The Iowa State Fair officially started Thursday, but Jaclyn Michener had a head start on everyone else. Michener, a senior at Newton High School, and the reigning Jasper County Fair Queen, has been preparing for the state fair queen contest since Tuesday.

She’s been staying at the Prairie Meadows Hotel all week to prepare for the contest, along with 102 other contestants, all vying to become this year’s state fair queen. The girls have been taking workshops, modeling classes and working out together.

Michener said while the process has been intense, she’s having a blast so far. It’s not that the competition is so different than when she was crowned the Jasper County fair queen, but rather, there’s so much more competition. She admitted she’s nervous, but knowing that everyone else is feeling the pressure helps.

“It’s nice knowing that there’s 102 other girls going through the same thing,” Michener said.

On Thursday Michener made her first official appearance at the Iowa State Fair, introducing herself at the Anne and Bill Riley stage, along with the rest of the contestants. After the introductions, Michener headed off to check out the big slide, a fair favorite.

Michener wasn’t the only Jasper County resident making an appearance on the Anne and Bill Riley stage yesterday, for the DeVries family, it’s become a tradition.

Carol DeVries brought her 5-year-old twins, Brooke and Katie, back to the fair so they could compete in the Twins, most alike contest. Competing in the annual event, which kicks off the Iowa State Fair on the first Thursday morning, is how the DeVries always get started at the fair. Carol DeVries said the girls always look forward to appearing on stage.

“They always talk about coming to the contest,” DeVries said.

The judging was over in a flash, and girls collected a fourth place ribbon for their efforts. Not quite as good as last year, when they took home third place, but DeVries said they’d keep coming back every year.

“It’s just kind of a tradition that we’ve started,” DeVries said.

Hundreds of Jasper County residents headed into Des Moines Thursday morning for the start of the state fair. Robert and Jill Titus, who live on an acreage south of Newton said the first day of the fair is their favorite day.

“It’s always cleanest on the first day, nothing’s been trampled yet,” Jill Titus said.

The Titus’ have been coming to the state fair for years, their children and now their grandchildren have shown animals with the Sherman’s Sunbeams 4-H Club, and Jill Titus and her husband were excited to walk through the animal barns to see what was different this year.

They planned to hit all the highlights on their first day, working their way down the hill from Grandfather’s Barn, stopping to see the Butter Cow, and then checking out the DNR exhibits. With a cool breeze blowing, the weather was perfect for a day at the fair.

“There’s just so much to see and do here,” Titus said.

Contact David Dolmage at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or

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