Cheers to a return to the glory days

Following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, William Anderson, who served 50 years as the Fayette County Fair Fruit, Vegetable, and Grain superintendent, Terry Landsgaard of West Union admits feeling a bit of pressure serving at the same post in 2013. In addition to promoting the return of longtime exhibitors, Landsgaard is introducing a list of new and unique categories to be displayed at the 100-year-old Floral Hall (background). (Mike Van Sickle photo)





Cheers to a return to the glory days

By Mike Van Sickle
Union editor

Like many longtime, local residents, Terry Landsgaard remembers when the Fayette County Fair was known as “the big one” when it came to Iowa’s county fairs. 

“The people used to fill these grounds. The midway was full of families, and the crowds used to wander through each of the livestock barns and exhibit halls. And the Floral Hall was the center of it all,” said the West Union native as his eyes scanned the interior of the 100-year-old structure last week.

“Ever since I was a small child, I remember seeing all the exhibits, but it was the Floral Hall that I always came back to. Like many visitors I enjoyed the wonderful fish tank in the center of the hall and all the different types of fish swimming around it,” reminisced the 65-year-old. “The Floral Hall had a different smell to it, one that you could close your eyes and know which building you were in.”

The fairgrounds, Floral Hall, and its exhibits have always held a special place in Landsgaard’s heart and those of his ancestors. He explained that one ancestor, cousin Charles Anderson, supposedly attended every Fayette County Fair but one during his entire life (over 90 years). 

Meanwhile, Landsgaard’s great-grandfather, William Anderson, was the local fair superintendent of the fruit, vegetable and grain exhibitions for 50 years. 

In his youth, Landsgaard helped Thelma Rupp for several years with the arts and crafts exhibits and  exhibited many times himself.

Even with so many joyful memories, he acknowledges that he had become so disheartened in recent years with the lack of exhibitors in the Floral Hall and the negative conversations and publicity, he volunteered to serve as this year’s Floral Hall superintendent at the Fayette County Fair.

“I’ve seen this place so full of exhibits that that there was hardly space for anything else to be put in here,” Landsgaard explained.  

In an effort to bring in new exhibitors, this year’s Floral Hall venue will include a list of fresh and unique categories.

The wreath-making class will include Special Occasions (weddings, baptisms, etc.), Holidays (Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc.), Seasonal, and Recyclables.

In addition, local beer and winemakers are invited to enter the Beer and/or Wine Classes. The beer category includes lagers, ales, and stouts. The wine category includes Red/Wine Dry, Red/White Sweet, Fruit, Novelty (corn, clover, dandelion, etc.), and/or Commercial.

At the same time, Landsgaard stressed the need for former exhibitors, especially the various garden clubs and similar organizations, to return to their exhibition roots.

“We are not only welcoming, but want the garden clubs and other longtime exhibitors to return to the Fayette County Fair,” he emphasized. “We want to start a different era here. We want people to remember the simple joy in exhibiting  and how their participation influences future generations and provides the novices a place to showcase their skills and talents.”

Landsgaard noted that this year’s entries could possibly receive more than the traditional ribbons and small monetary rewards. He explained he is also attempting to provide prizes from area merchants. 

For additional information on the Floral Hall exhibits and categories, contact Landsgaard at (563) 379-3393 or

Exhibit rules/registration forms are available online at

What’s new at the fair?

The newly organized categories showcased in the Floral Hall are just a few of the fresh ideas scheduled by the Fayette County Fair Board and other volunteers in 2013.

Among the biggest changes is the free gate admission greeting those who enter the fairgrounds in West Union from Tuesday, July 23, through Saturday, July 27.

Newly scheduled grandstand entertainment includes a Mud Bog on Thursday, July 25, and Hell Drivers Stunt Show (to coincide with the annual bus races) on Saturday, July 27. All grandstand entertainment is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. throughout fair week.

A “Putting on the Lips” (lip-synching) contest will be held from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the fairgrounds on Saturday, July 27. Local bars and their respective bartenders will compete in a Bartenders’ Challenge in the beer tent each night throughout the fair.

In addition to a list of new commercial vendors, the fair board looks forward to welcoming new food vendors, including some who will feature foods from Polashek’s Locker in Protivin, and a State Fair vendor who will be serving fried Klondike Bars, Krispy Kreme cheeseburgers, and fried Jell-o.

For additional vending/exhibit information, call the Fayette County Fair Office at (563) 422-5202. If no one is in, leave a message and the phone call will be returned.

Fayette County Extension & Outreach will also be offering a Bug Day Camp during Kids’ Day on Friday, July 26. Children who like insects and/or want to learn more about these fascinating creatures will want to preregister for this special event.

Chelsey Fagle, Fayette County 4-H and Youth summer assistant, explains that hands-on opportunities will allow the participants to search for, identify, see and touch insects, as well as enjoy crafts, games, a tour of the fairgrounds, and much more. 

Preregistration is required by Monday, July 15. A small fee includes camp supplies, snacks, and a meal. Camp brochures have been distributed to Fayette County public elementary schools, and public libraries, and can also be obtained by contacting the Fayette County Extension Office at (563) 425-3331. 

The Kids’ Day festivities also include the debut of the All-American Lumberjack Show. Children in attendance will be able to participate in a portion of the shows, which will be held three times (TBA) during the day.

Additional information on the 160th running of the Fayette County Fair will continue to be featured in the coming weeks.


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