All About the

Buena Vista County Fair

Buena Vista County Fair - Celebrating 131 Years

Buena Vista Entertainment

For five days at the end of July, the Buena Vista County Fairgrounds in Alta, IA hosts a family fun fair. The fairgrounds include a grandstand with a dirt track for Stock Car Races, Bull Riding, Tractor Pull, Sugar Loom Veterans Show and Enduro Car Races. Of all the county fairs in Iowa to attend, the Buena Vista County Fair is a must! Enjoy true Buena Vista entertainment with carnival rides, exhibitors, concerts, fair queen competition, 4-H livestock and much, much more.

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Buena Vista County Fair History

MARCH 3, 1873

The Buena Vista County Agricultural Society is incorporated, purchases 100 acres and the first fair is held September 23 and 24, 1873 in Storm Lake. The fair continued at this site for 5 years when it was abandoned due to hard times and grasshoppers. Several attempts were made to revive it, but eventually the track was plowed up and the grounds were returned to their original purpose of farmland.

APRIL 2, 1886

The second attempt is more successful. The necessary 400 shares are purchased by members of the county and the Buena Vista County Agricultural Society is incorporated. 30 acres of land are purchased east of Alta, Iowa, a half mile track is maintained and the necessary buildings are built.

It was the age of horses. People travelled to the fair by horse, then raced the same horses in high wheeled sulkies for fun around the track. Sulkies gave way to harness races which attracted horses from across the state. Grandstand events included Karl King Band, elephants, bears, diving horses and Gypsy fortune tellers. The buildings were full of open class entries, from canned goods and quilts, to purebred livestock.


4-H Livestock - Buena Vista County Fair
4-H appeared at the fair. Boys and girls involved in 4-H began taking over the buildings once used for the open class livestock and canned goods and flowers.


A new $5,000 dollar, 8 sided Floral Hall is built on the fairgrounds and becomes the focal point and hallmark of the Buena Vista County Fair.
Floral Hall - Buena Vista County Fair


Ladies Day is added to the fair agenda and quickly becomes one of the highlights of the fair for the women. Demonstrations of crafts, cooking, flower arranging and music were topics throughout the years.


A new Grandstand replaces the wooden one and seats 2100 people. Car racing is replacing horse racing.


A new 4-H building with auditorium is erected and the former 4-H building is used for Open Class entries. Other livestock buildings are torn down and replaced, including the horse barn which is now attached to the show ring.


The fair falls on hard times again. The Floral Hall is taken down due to disrepair, the race track closes, Ladies’ Day is discontinued and fair attendance falls due to the recession.


A new generation of board members sparks the resurgence of the fair, buildings are repaired and the track reopened.


New beef barn built, new bathrooms installed under the Grandstand, energy efficient LED lights and PA system are installed, Ladies' Day and Open Classes resurrected, and the track celebrates 50 years of stock car racing.


CELEBRATING 130 YEARS!! Happy Birthday Buena Vista County Fair.
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