Anthony Hansen, right, judges the Wapello County Fair Beef Show Sunday.

Anthony Hansen, right, judges the Wapello County Fair Beef Show in 2018.

ELDON — The Wapello County Fair is gearing up for next week’s festivities, and there’s a lot going on.

The Midway carnival is already bringing its rides to the Eldon fairgrounds. “We have a new carnival this year that’s coming in,” said Bev Sloan, fair treasurer. Rides will be available Wednesday during the Twilight Harness Races and the Queen and Little Miss Contest as well as other times throughout the week.

Those wanting to get their wristbands can do so through Tuesday at Libertyville Savings Bank in Eldon, the Ottumwa Area Chamber of Commerce or by calling 641-455-4680. The $15 wristband offers unlimited rides for the wristband sessions, which will be available on several days and times.

“That’s fun for the kids. The kids can buy a wristband and ride the whole session, for two hours at a time,” Sloan said.

There is also still time to sign up for the Bill Riley Talent Search, which will be held at 11 a.m. June 14. Two age divisions, Sprout for ages 2-12 and Senior for ages 13-21, will compete with the winners advancing to the Iowa State Fair competition.

Entries may be made by calling or texting 641-455-4680 or emailing

What’s a county fair without livestock competitions? Shows will be held throughout the week.

“One of the biggest things we have is on Thursday, the Iowa Meat Goat Show,” Sloan said.

The Iowa Meat Got Show is set for 1 p.m. June 13. Saturday will feature the horse show at 11 a.m. June 15 in the arena, with the Jackpot Lamb Show and FFA Lamb Show following at noon in the Thompson Building.

Sunday is a full day of shows. It begins the the mule show at 11 a.m. in the arena, followed by the open class and FFA swine show at noon in the Thompson Building. The open class and FFA beef show will also be at noon in the Wapello Hall arena.

Sloan says livestock shows are a big draw for the fair. “A lot of the kids in town don’t get to see livestock very often,” she said, adding that it offers a chance for them to see the animals close up.

Other highlights for the week include the Queen and Little Miss contests, set for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Wapello Hall.

The headliner of the week, though, is country music star Craig Morgan. Concerts are a fair favorite, Sloan said. “Craig Morgan is a well-known country singer. The young adults love going to the concerts, rain or nice weather.”

Morgan will perform Friday night at the the grandstand. Coming before him, though, is a chance for concert-goers to get involved with the action.

“He’s going to be opened by three local bands that will be judged by the fans for prize money,” Sloan said.

In between the big events, there’s still a lot going on. “We have a lot of good vendors,” Sloan said. “We have a lot of new ones this year. We always have good crowds for the car races, too.”

“It’s just a chance to get out and do something different than sitting at home. And, I think it’s just a bit of a tradition to go to the fair every year.”

While some of the individual events require tickets, gate admission and parking are free. For more information and a full schedule of events, visit

Features Editor Tracy Goldizen can be reached via email at or followed on Twitter @CourierTracy.


Tracy Goldizen is the Courier's magazine editor, leading production of "Ottumwa Life," the award-winning "Business People" and the Courier's other magazine offerings. She began work with the Courier on the copy desk.