By Rick Fromm
By Rick Fromm

       With apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein:

“Our county fair is a great

county fair, don’t miss

it don’t even be late.”

It’s officially the sweet, sweet summertime in Iowa and that means more activities than you can shake a stick of cotton candy at. That’s especially true here in Winneshiek County where the month of July is jam-packed with exciting events for the entire family.

First up on the schedule is the annual and immensely popular Winneshiek County Fair, which runs from July 11-15. Decorah’s celebration of its Scandinavian/Norwegian heritage, more affectionately known as Nordic Fest, is July 27-29, and this year local residents and visitors alike will also be greeting RAGBRAI riders (the Des Moines Register’s annual great bike ride across Iowa) as they make their way through Winneshiek County Friday, July 28. The mass of humanity on wheels will pass through our community as well as Ossian on its way from Cresco to Waukon -- en route to its final destination of Lansing and the mighty Mississippi River.

It should be noted that Decorah is not an “overnight” town for the 2017 RAGBRAI, but thousands of riders are expected to make their way through our community on that busy Friday, and it’s a good bet many of them will pull over and enjoy a bite to eat or perhaps down a beverage or three.

Whatever the case may be, this July promises to be one of the busiest on record and that kind of ongoing publicity can only be viewed as a positive thing for our little corner of America. People who will experience Decorah and Winneshiek County for the first time are in for a real treat, and as so often happens, they will make it a point to come back and enjoy everything we have to offer besides lefse and pork on a stick.

 As a 35-year resident of this community, I’ve grown to love the summer months and all that they bring to this special place we call home. But I must admit my first love is the “greatest little county fair in all of Iowa.” From the fantastic fare, to the entertainment, to the exciting midway, to the countless 4-H and FFA projects, the fair is a continual delight for all the senses. I can smell the pork chops and rib-eyes cooking already.

This year’s entertainment lineup is as good as or better than any of its predecessors. Grandstand events get under way Tuesday, July 11 (6:30 p.m.), with the Upper Iowa Speedway stock car races and, as usual, a standing-room-only crowd is expected.

The NTPA truck and tractor pull is slated for 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 12, and “Trouble Shooter” will perform at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 13, followed by the group “Arch Allies” at 8:30 p.m.

Drew Baldridge is scheduled to take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 14, and then at 9 p.m. the place should be rockin’ for American Idol star Scotty McCreery.

The week-long entertainment schedule will conclude at 7 p.m. Friday, July 15, with CC bull riding and barrel racing, so be sure to set your fun meters on “high.”

With free admission and parking, the fair is a perfect venue for the entire family and throughout the years the event has continued to grow and expand into something special indeed. Is there a better county fair in Iowa when all factors are considered? Perhaps, but I’d have to see it to believe it.

What’s my favorite part of the fair? The overall people-watching is incomparable, and the food offerings are making me salivate as I write this, but the No. 1 thing that trips my trigger is watching the young people show their livestock. From a small 70-pound lad trying to wrangle a 1,200 pound steer to a determined young woman trying to make a hog go where it doesn’t want to, I marvel at the time and effort these amazing kids put into their fair projects. Here’s a tip of the hat and a blue ribbon for all of them.

If I had to choose only one thing to eat at the fair, what would it be? Tough question. Rather than pick a favorite, I prefer to start at one end of the fair and consume at least one of everything as I go forward.

On the “must eat” list, however, are the Cattlemen’s rib-eye sandwich, a walking taco from the 4-H restaurant, a vanilla milkshake from the Moo Mobile and of course the food choice of all food choices: a delicious pork chop-on-a-stick.

It’s often said the Fair Board officers don’t get enough credit for their remarkable efforts, so here’s a list of those who deserve a pat on the back: President Gary Schutte; Vice President Arlin Franzen; Secretary/Treasurer Ron Hemesath; Business Manager Edna Schrandt; Property Manager Duane Dehning; and Accounting Manager Mary Fitch. Fair Board directors include Ron Hemesath, Becky Winkler, Arlin Franzen, Gary Schutte, Mark Knutson, John Schnitzler, Gordon Tangen, Deann Christopher and JoEllen Foels. And don’t forget the many, many members of the Auxiliary.

Have a great July and rest of the summer. It should be a dandy.