By Kim Brooks, Express Editor
There was much to celebrate at this year’s kick-off event for the Great Jones County Fair and Food Fest, with the theme “Proceed to Party!”
The kick-off, held on June 13, highlighted new features for this year’s fair and honored fair volunteers with special awards.
The big award of the night went to Andy Anderson, former fair manager. Anderson, who dedicated 56 years to the fair, received the Andy Anderson Lifetime Achievement Award. Current Fair Manager John Harms said this award probably would not be given to anyone else.
“We wanted to do something very special for Andy, so we established this award program,” said Harms.
Harms gave a brief history of his past with Anderson. In 1956, Boyd Shannon, superintendent of the Monticello School District, hired Anderson to teach here. Shannon was also involved with the fair, and hinted to Anderson that he should get involved as well.
“Last year,” said Harms, “Andy turned in his keys and retired from his active role with the fair.”
Harms’ first experience with Anderson brought on mixed emotions. Harms said he was in seventh grade, on the football team, when a referee (Anderson) called him for holding. Harms said he made note of the referee, being sure to avoid him in later games.
When Harms entered high school, he took an industrial arts class, taught by that same referee, Anderson.
“We got along better then,” said Harms. “Our relationship grew as teacher and student.”
When Harms returned to the area after college and started working with the fair, he said he got to know Anderson quite well. The two share a unique bond: Anderson’s son and Harms’ father both passed away in a short timeframe of each other.
“We latched onto each other,” Harms said. “I’m a better person for knowing you, Andy.”
Others in the audience also told their heartwarming stories about Anderson: Linda Kahler, Judy Huntsberger, Virgil Hunt and Joe Yedlik.
Anderson’s daughter, Beth Lippert, also offered her memories of her dad’s time with the fair.
“The Great Jones County Fair has been a part of my life as long as I can remember,” she said. “It definitely was a family affair. Dad had a chance to be a leader in the community and made lifelong friends.”
Lippert said their family refers to Anderson as “King of the Fair,” and that definitely holds true.
She said she remembers when their family finally got box seats versus having to sit on the hillside every year. She said they loved riding in the golf cart around the fairgrounds with their dad. Lippert said her dad would bring the moneybag home at night because the banks were closed. She said it was no secret where the money was kept, Anderson’s underwear drawer.
“He’ll always be ‘King of the Fair’ to us,” said Lippert. “Dad put in 56 years of dedication for the five best days of summer.”
Anderson thanked everyone for their kind words and said he’d like to make it 56 more years at the fair if he could. He said Harms is the best person to carry on as fair manager in his footsteps.
“He really loves the fair,” Anderson said of Harms. “It’s in good hands. This is the number one fair in the State of Iowa. The Great Jones County Fair will always be in my heart.”
The 2012 Friend of the Fair (FOF) this year went to the Wyoming Fair Association. Joe Yedlik, ISU Extension director, president of the Great Jones County Fair and incoming president of the Association of Iowa Fairs, said this year’s FOF came to light in 2010.
“That was the year we had extensive rain and the Lake Delhi Dam had problems and we were the recipient of a lot of water,” explained Yedlik. He said this was the first time people witnessed the fairgrounds underwater during fair week. While the grounds have flooded before, Yedlik said never during the fair.
“It shut down all activities here and the lower campus where the livestock barns are.”
They issued an emergency plan and had everyone vacate the fairgrounds including livestock.
“For the youth, the fair was over,” said Yedlik. Many of the 4-H and FFA judging shows were canceled. But, Yedlik said some people stepped up to the plate to make sure the shows could still go on.
“We are very fortunate in this county to have two fairgrounds,” he said of the Jones County and Wyoming fairs. The remaining shows were rescheduled and moved to Wyoming in a short amount of time.
“We are proud of what they did,” Yedlik said.
This year’s inductee into the Jones County Fair Hall of Fame was given posthumously to Gene Brunscheen. The award was presented to his family and widow, Shirlee Brunscheen.
“Family names surface when you talk about the fair,” said Harms. “Tonight, with heavy hearts, we talk about Gene Brunscheen.”
The Brunscheen family has participated in the GJCF for years, ever since Gene was in 4-H. Years later, his daughters (Kris Gobeli and Lisa Rickels) also showed cattle at the fair. Gene was involved in the cattle shows, tractor pulls and planning of the fair.
“Gene had a way of getting things done at his pace,” said Harms, “but he got them done.”
Gene passed away this spring of a brain tumor, and Harms said the two-hour line at his wake was a testament to the type of person he was.
Shirlee Brunscheen thanked the fair for this honor saying, “Gene loved the fair. He took pride in being the track chairman for 26 years, but he loved the tractor pull the most. We will continue to be involved in the fair as we know Gene would want us to be.”
During the fair kick-off event, the candidates for the 2012 Jones County Fair Queen were announced: Jenna Walleser, Michelle Fuess, Rebecca Dirks, Holly Salzbrenner, Nicole Monck, Jackie Russ, Katherine Gray, Heather McAtee, Stacey Tjaden, Emma Lubben and Emily Wagner.
The queen pageant will take place on Sunday, July 8, at 6 p.m. at the Monticello Eagles Club, and is open to the public. On Tuesday, July 17, the 2012 Fair Queen will be crowned at the fair.
PHOTOS: Top: Andy Anderson (left) was honored with the Andy Anderson Lifetime Achievement Award by John Harms (center) with the Great Jones County Fair for his 56 years of service to the fair. Anderson’s wife Pat and his family were also in attendance for the event. More photos on A-Z. Bottom: The Wyoming Fair Association was named the 2012 Friends of the Fair for their efforts in 2010 when the grounds flooded. They assisted in keeping the fair going. From left, Mike Franzen, Kris Gobeli, Andy Petersen, Jason Zamastil, Jim Eichhorn, Ken Hansen, Terry Lineburg and Mat Gray. (Photos by Kim Brooks)