Centennial exhibit is a walk through history

At the Clay County Fair

-AP photo Lainey Lorch, of Harris, looks at one of the displays at the Clay County Fair Centennial exhibit while her grandparents, David and Jane Lorch, look on.

SPENCER — The Clay County Fair is encouraging people to “Come Home” and see not only what is new at the fair, but help to celebrate the fair’s centennial year.

There have been several changes to the fairground’s landscape this year, with one being the Photography Center, which is now in what was formerly the Industrial Building, located south of the Commercial Exhibits building.

In addition to the blue ribbon photography on display, Clay County Fair history and classic cars help build the fair’s Centennial Historical Exhibit.

This exhibit is presented by the Clay County Heritage Center and the Iowa Great Lakes Car Club.

Clifford Phipps, president of the Iowa Great Lakes Car Club, said they are providing the cars for the exhibit and have made a centennial display of automobiles, providing a car for each decade starting in 1917, a car from the 1920s through the 1980s.

The cars, he said, each come with signage to help explain their features and some information about that particular era and decade.

The car representing 1917 is a 1917 Hudson Super 6 7 passenger touring vehicle. The car, which represents the very first year of the Clay County Fair, is not only unique because it is 100 years old itself, but Phipps said it is owned by the Clay County Fair Board President, David Simington.

Phipps said the 1917 Hudson actually was at the first Clay County Fair and has remained in Simington’s family since it was new.

“We tried to vary the types of vehicles, some of the more popular of the cars of those decades,” said Phipps. “I think we did a pretty good job of that.”

The mission, Phipps said, has been to not only assist the fair with its centennial display, but to help show the history of the automobile.

“That has been a pretty significant of the history of our country,” he said. “People can come in and see the progression of cars and most people can relate to some era — even up to the 1980s, some of the people can remember when their dad had one of these old cars, so it’s just an experience to view the cars and reminisce a little and get conversation going.”

Phipps said the Centennial Exhibit has been a popular exhibit so far. The exhibit, he added, allows fairgoers to stop in and look at the signs from the centennial display and see firsthand the progression of the fair and how it has changed over the years.

“It’s proven itself to be, truly, the greatest county fair in the world,” he said. “I would certainly agree with that. We’ve participated at the fair with cars for the last 20 to 25 years, so we’re enjoying continuing that tradition and hope to continue with that in to the future.”