Woodbury County Fair History
The following Woodbury County Fair History was taken
from the 1987 Moville History Book “Our History, Our Community, Our
People” published to celebrate Moville’s Centennial. This represents a
small bit of the history of the fair from 1926 – 1986.
The Woodbury County Fair
When the Interstate Fair, which had been held in Sioux City for many years, was discontinued with the 1926 season, the Woodbury County Farm Bureau joined with representatives of Plymouth County, Iowa; Union County, South Dakota; and Dakota county, Nebraska; to hold an inter-county fair at Moville in September 1927. It was named the Big-4 Fair and Ralph McElrath of Moville was elected president of the new organization.
Lack of cooperation prevented the hoped-for success, but in the next year, 1928, the Farm Bureau arranged for the exposition to be held at the fairgrounds in Sioux City. The Sioux City Chamber of Commerce donated $7,500 and the Monahan Legion Post also helped support the movement. There still was little public interest. In 1930 the Woodbury County Farm Bureau asked various towns in the county to bid for a county fair. Moville’s bid of $8,000 was the winner.
Officers of the new organization formed at this time were: Alvern Wendel of Bronson, president; Milford Beeghly of Pierson, vice president; Fred McDermott of Moville, secretary; and Henry Wood of Moville, treasurer. It was decided to hold the fair the following September 10, 11, and 12. The undertaking proved successful; there was an attendance of 13,105 and the fair board realized a modest profit.
Some exhibits were displayed in booths on Main Street; others in what is now the Masonic Temple; and the 4-H exhibits were in a garage on Second Street. Livestock was shown in a large barn on the W. E. Hall farm at the east end of Main Street. Among the attractions at the fair were a baseball game each afternoon, a hog and chicken calling contest, a horseshoe pitching contest in the town park, and foot races at the baseball park. Bands from surrounding towns furnished music each day.
In 1930 the Fair Association purchased 29 acres of the W. E. Hall farm which joined Moville on the east. The large barn there, which had been used at fair time for stock exhibits, was remodeled. A sheep barn and hog house were built; also a women’s exhibit hall was erected.
An interesting item taken from a clipping of a Sioux City newspaper on August 27, 1931, state that “the following person financed and built the grandstand which will eventually become the property of the Fair Association; F.L. McDermott, Wallace Rundall, James Anderson, J. C. Larkin and C. C. Everhart.” Several years later a roof was erected over the grandstand. In 1962 there were 68 acres and 14 buildings; in the ensuing years many additions and improvements have been made.
Many attractions have been offered to boost attendance. These included an Old Settler’s Day. Free admission was given to all who had lived in the county for 50 years or more. Also there have been many noted speakers, including Milo Reno, president of the Iowa Farmer’s Union (1930); Lieutenant Governor Nelson G. Kraschel (1933); and U. S. Senator Guy M. Gillette of Cherokee (1934). When Henry C. Field of Shenandoah was the featured speaker on September 16, 1932, the attendance was 6,000, a record for any one day.
As a special attraction at the fair of 1934, a wedding was performed on the stage before the grandstand on the evening of August 30. The bride was Miss Anna Paulson of Bronson, and the groom was Emery Riemenschneider of Kingsley. The Reverend G. A. Matthaidess of Sioux City officiated.
By 1933 racing was one of the main attractions. But this had to be discontinued after a few years because the track was too short to accommodate the better type of horses. The famous Shrine White Horse Patrol has performed several times and is a perennial favorite of the crowd.
Children’s Day has been a special feature. In the past, children competed in Shetland pony races, bicycle races and foot races, and in recent years a frog jumping contest and Pedal Power Pulls have been popular. At the 1934 fair a most unusual feature was a rural school chorus of 360 voices, conducted by Hal Buntley of Sioux City.
The county fair provides competition and a place to display their year’s work for 4-H members and the open class exhibitors. Volleyball games, tug-of-war, and baseball and softball have also provided competition.
Fun and recreation for the whole family are also a big part of the fair. Demolition derbys, tractor pulls, chuck wagon and chariot races, quean and talent contests are popular events in recent years. Ladies Day programs feature cooking schools, garden programs and craft demonstrations. Dances are very popular with square dances, teen dances, and live bands providing music for all ages.
Volunteers from the 4-H clubs, primarily the Arlington Future Farmers and leader Leonard Applegate, Moville Township Boys 4-H Club and leader Clarence Neville; and the Pierson Blue Ribbon Club and leader Ben Nannen, built the boys 4-H dormitory, now the 4-H office building. The masonry work was donated by Turner Ritchey as a booster of 4-H work.
In 1966 the show ring was constructed from materials supplied by the Woodbury County Farm Bureau.
During the time W. R. Herbold was secretary-manager, 1969-1972, three metal buildings were added for commercial and 4-H exhibits. They were financed by private subscription and a contract with the Farmers Hybrid Seed Corn for their use of the buildings for off-season storage. One of these buildings was named Bleil Hall in memory of Howard Bleil who was a board member for 51 years and treasurer for 27 years.
In 1984 Flathers Hall was built. It was named in honor of Max Flathers for all the support and interest he provided the fair over the years. Flathers Hall is used for performances such as the queen contest, talent shows and the 4-H Fashion Revue. It holds approximately 800 people and allows the fair to provide attractions to be in the grandstand and Flathers Hall at the same time. A building formerly housing chickens and rabbits was demolished in 1984 and the volleyball court installed in its place.
Past presidents of the Woodbury County Fair; A. S. Wendel, 1930-1936; Fred McDermott, 1937; Milford Beeghly, 1938-1940; Geo. Morhouser, 1940-1043; M. J. Neustrom, 1944-1946; R. E. Richards, 1947-1951; Fred Tabke, 1942-1954; Howard Bleil, 1955; I. V. Kuhn, 1956-1958; R. D. Harms, 1959-1960; Nick Topf, 1961-1967; Harold Nash, 1968-1969; A. L. Wendel, 1970-1971; Les Groepper, 1972-1973; W. R. Herbold, 1974-1976; J. P. Woodbridge, 1977-1980; Wayne Molstad, 1981; J. P. Woodbridge, 1982-1984; and Gene Zellmer, 1985-1986.
Past secretaries; Fred McDermott, 1930-1940; Clyde Spry, 1941-1942; F. H. Rebelsky, 1943-1951; Wayne Luse, 1952- 1956; William McElrath, Jr., 1957-1968; W. R. Herbold, 1969-1972; Larry Etler, 1973-1975; Jim Bleil and Pert Powell, 1976-1977; Pert and Gail Powell, 1978-1980; Lyle Scheelhaase, 1981; Jack and Nancy Burright, 1982 – 1986.
In 1986 there were 63 acres of land and 26 buildings on the fairgrounds.
From an article taken from the Moville Record October 16, 1986 –
“The 1987 Woodbury County Fair will be August 5-9 with Schnetter Amusements of Aurelia providing the carnival.
Gene Zellmer of Moville was re-elected president of the Woodbury County Fair Board at the Fair Association Annual Meeting held October 6.
Carole Hennings of Moville was elected 1st Vice President; Leonard Cassens of Anthon, 2nd vice president; and Cal Tyer of Kingsley, 3rd vice president. Leo Farber, Pierson, was re-elected treasurer.
Elected to the executive board were; Kurt Nash, Kingsley; Kenneth Petersen, Moville; Leonard Wilcox, Correctionville; and Wayne Molstad, Moville.
Directors elected to the board include Don Albers, Danbury; Bud Chapman, Moville; Lester Groepper, Correctionville, Dan Johnson, Cushing; Jim Bleil, Moville, Kevern Koskovich, Correctionville; Sara McElrath, Moville; Lewis Reyman, Cushing; Cal Tyer, Kingsley; Kelly Weaver, Moville; Leonard Wilcox, Correctionville; Allene Huibregtse, Sioux City; and Dave Amick, Bronson.
Jack and Nancy Burright were rehired as secretary-managers.”
The Woodbury County Fair continues to be a most worthwhile event made possible by its officers, faithful volunteers and interested workers in its many phases. Through its 58 years, changes have been made to adapt to the changing tastes and desires of those who have attended. As it looks to the future, the participants and attenders will shape the fair as it continues to provide a place to display wares and entertain the public.
Past presidents of the Woodbury County Fair
A. S. Wendel, 1930-1936; Fred McDermott, 1937; Milford Beeghly, 1938-1940; Geo. Morhouser, 1940-1043; M. J. Neustrom, 1944-1946; R. E. Richards, 1947-1951; Fred Tabke, 1942-1954; Howard Bleil, 1955; I. V. Kuhn, 1956-1958; R. D. Harms, 1959-1960; Nick Topf, 1961-1967; Harold Nash, 1968-1969; A. L. Wendel, 1970-1971; Les Groepper, 1972-1973; W. R. Herbold, 1974-1976; J. P. Woodbridge, 1977-1980; Wayne Molstad, 1981; J. P. Woodbridge, 1982-1984; and Gene Zellmer, 1985-1987; Leonard Cassens, 1988-2001; Dale Hayworth, 2002-2005; Charlie Reinking, 2006 to the present time.
Past Fair Managers / Secretaries
Fred McDermott, 1930-1940; Clyde Spry, 1941-1942; F. H. Rebelsky, 1943-1951; Wayne Luse, 1952- 1956; William McElrath, Jr., 1957-1968; W. R. Herbold, 1969-1972; Larry Etler, 1973-1975; Jim Bleil and Pert Powell, 1976-1977; Pert and Gail Powell, 1978-1980; Lyle Scheelhaase, 1981; Jack and Nancy Burright, 1982 – 1999; Cal and Barb Tyer 2000-2005; Dave Amick and Gloria Zook 2006 – 2009; Dave Amick and Kathy Tabke at the present time.