Two county fairs were a big part of my life. One was the local county fair, and the other is called the largest (and best) county fair in the country, which is the Clay County Fair at Spencer, IA. When we talked about that fair we always called it the Spencer fair. It was large when I was a kid, but is even larger now, and brings people from all over the state and nearby states. Many say it is better than the state fairs.
The Clay County Fair is the one I remember as a young kid. It is always in September, and in order to go there during the daytime, we had to get out of school. In those days it was a little easier to get out of classes just to go to a fair. My parents would go alone once or twice during the week-long fair, and I got to go one day with them, and that was usually the day of the stock car races. Then we would go one night for the grandstand shows. There were always popular singers there, and still draws big names today.
I can't remember any that I saw as a kid, but as an adult I saw Oak Ridge Boys, Statler Brothers, Reba McEntire, Barbara Mandrell, Roger Miller, Conway Twitty, and others that don't come to mind right now. Those grandstand shows were much cheaper than the usual concerts.
There was one building that had a large model train setup, with several trains running around the tracks in a small model countryside. In that same building the local radio station was on air at times and you could sit in the room to listen, or watch through the windows.
It was always fun to visit all the commercial booths set up to grab their free handouts. We would see many people walking around with the free yard sticks and a bag full of brochures and other items. And of course, there was the midway. My favorite ride was the Tilt-a-whirl and the mini roller coaster. I never dared to go on a full size roller coaster. Oh, and can't forget the pony rides, even if all we did was go around the circle. I wanted a pony or horse so bad, but never got one. It was always necessary to have cotton candy, the Tom Thumb donuts, a bag of salt water taffy, caramel corn and snow cones.
I spent a lot of time at the small local county fair while I was in 4-H. I usually had several entries in various divisions, and got quite a few blue ribbons over the years. One year I had a skirt I made that qualified for district fair, which was the Clay County Fair. I only got a red there, but still an honor to qualify. I never did get anything to qualify to go to the state fair. State fair was top honor and Clay County Fair was second. Once I got into high school I had to work in the 4-H building every day of the fair.
One year a friend and I gave a demonstration making jelly filled biscuits at the local fair, which also qualified for the Clay County Fair, so that was exciting. We didn't do so well there but it was a great experience.