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Plymouth County Fair History

The first Plymouth County Fair held at the Le Mars fairgrounds was September 8-10, 1941.

After outgrowing the fair's original headquarters in Merrill, the Plymouth County 4-H and Agricultural Society moved the fair to Le Mars, at the same site where the fair is held today.

On May 16, 1941, at a special meeting in the Union Hotel, the Le Mars Chamber of Commerce unanimously voted to purchase twenty acres for $3,000. It would be used for the promotion of agriculture, 4-H and FFA work in Plymouth County. An agricultural society would be organized by June 1, 1944.

They voted to authorize county 4-H clubs to erect buildings and make improvements. The girls used the county club for their exhibits and the boys had tents for exhibiting their entries. Other feature events were held at the nearby Le Mars Municipal Park.

In 1947, a block building and two livestock barns, one for swine and one for calves -- at the cost of $950 -- was constructed. The number of exhibits was growing rapidly.

In 1948, a loud speaker was installed and the sixth livestock building was consturcted.

At the 1949 fair, a record three-day attendance was set. Some 15,000 people attended.

In the following years, the fair continued to grow -- new buildings, food stands, and bigger and better entertainment was incorporated. In 1956, eleven additional acres were purchased at a price of $1,000 per acre.

Another swine barn was built, with a scale under the roof, seating space for 100 people and a show ring. It was built for a cost of $7,004.

In 1964, the 4-H and Ag Committee was given permission to build a 4-H Food Stand. This was be a joint boys and girls club stand. In that year, the Fairboard bought what was known as the Girl’s 4-H Building for $550. The north end was used by the KLEM radio station. In 1966, the covered rest area was added.

In the mid 70s the Pioneer Village was developed. This involved moving existing buildings to the fairgrounds, a process which lasted until the mid 90s. A stage and daily entertainment was also added to the Village. Since then, many Village buildings have undergone renovation and it is a hub of activity in July and December, when the fairgrounds serves as the host site for a popular Christmas celebration.

Additional livestock buildings, commercial space, and a large multi-use building have been built to accommodate the ever changing needs of the community.

The fair continues to be one of the largest county fairs in Iowa -- with more than 112,000 people attending the now five day event. The Plymouth County 4-H and FFA programs have more than 500 members.
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