Community members gathered in the heat June 9 at the Equestrian Barn on the Great Jones County Fairgrounds for the fair kickoff event.

The event, usually an annual one, was not held in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. General Manager John Harms started the night out by recalling the timeline of events for 2020. As COVID-19 started to become a bigger factor as the spring went on, things were in limbo as people waited for action.

However, after Zac Brown Band made their decision to cancel and an informal study was done of the fair board about what people expected attendance and spending to look like, the scaled-back version of 2020 was settled on. The focus on 4-H and how the animal shows were spread out from five days to nine days, with animals leaving the same day they came in, ended up being popular.

This year, Harms was looking forward to a relatively normal event, with a full food court and entertainers returning to the stage. Harms also announced some new features, like daily bike giveaways at the kids’ zone and Taste of Tuscany Wine tasting and Iowa craft beers replacing the woodcutting.

The event also served to honor a pair of longtime community members and their contributions to the fair.

The 2021 inductee to the Great Jones County Fair Hall of Fame was Lloyd Welter, who passed away in April. During the emotional introduction, Harms said Welter was instrumental in figuring out how to get a staircase into the necessary footprint in the Youth Development Center and helped the fair find its new amphitheater seating by locating it in Branson, Mo. Members of Welter’s family accepted the award on his behalf, and Harms also unveiled a bench honoring him to be placed on the grounds.

The 2021 Friend of the Fair award went to Dave Goedken. Harms called him the “go to guy when it comes to heavy equipment” and praised him for the work he puts in getting the dirt track ready, both during and outside of fair time.

“So much of his time is put in after everyone else is gone for the night,” Harms said.

The night also served as the introduction of the eleven candidates for the Great Jones County Fair Queen: Lillian Strait, Kelsey Adams, Bronwyn Hodge, Elizabeth Riniker, Delainy Fellinger, Karli Recker, Callie Lynch, Brooklyn Stark, Reagan Schneiter, Adel Hogan and Grace Lubben. Prior to their introduction, formal royalty encouraged the candidates to enjoy the experience. Reigning queen Lauryn Ries said while she was proud to be the longest-ever reigning queen the fair had ever had, she was ready to give up the title.

The public part of the pageant will take place July 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the Monticello Eagles Club.

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