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Farmers Day 2015 Another Great Success!

Thursday Night's schedule kicked off with the Children's Parade. Participants rode through on bikes, decorated floats, mini-tractors, as well as mini-cars. Candy was tossed out by some for kids.

As usual, the Prince & Princess Contest drew a large crowd as everyone gathered in to see some of the cutest kids in Jesup. The 4 & 5 Year Old Prince and Princess are Davis Donlea and Aubrey Nie. For the 6 & 7 Year Olds, the winners were Jayce Raye Birdnow and Dominic Delagardelle.

More contests and acts livened up Friday afternoon, including the Pet Show, which didn't have many contestants, but allowed everyone to win a prize or two. The Bubble Gum Blowing Contest had so many entrants that five age categories were created. Winners included Marta Wehrspans, Maribel Martinez, Joshua Nedrow, Luke Van Brocklin, and Eric Masteller. Eric Michaels' Magic Show and the classic DooWops also drew a crowd that filled up the Pavilion.

Bill Chrastil returned to the Farmers Day stage, and seats were completely filled. Many people brought lawn chairs or stood in the back to get a glimpse of his performance.

The carnival midway was as popular as ever. Classic favorites as well as new rides kept ticket sales going.
The L.A. Racing Pigs Show was a new addition to this year's lineup. One-on-one competitions and last-man-standing games kept everyone laughing and having fun during their three performances. The show couldn't even be seen from a distance due to the crowd surrounding it.

On Saturday, the 5K Run/Walk drew people of all ages to participate. The overall male winner was Steven Culpper with a time of 17.10, and the overall female winner was Emily Treptow with a time of 22.45.

With as many floats as you could hope to see, the Parade was a huge success. The Don Bosco Band began and the Shriner's band, which was accompanied by the Jesup High School Band, ended the Parade on great notes. Ice cream, popsicles, magnets, water bottles, and candy were handed out to kids and adults alike. Overcast skies didn't affect the amount of people willing to sit out and watch most brought an umbrella and blankets. Farmers Mutual won the Sweepstakes Award. Winding Creek Meadows, First United Methodist Church, the Jesup High School Softball team, and the Remert family also took first-place in other categories. A number of vintage cars and tractors drove along the parade route. The oldest car was a 1915 Ford Model T, and the winning tractor was a 1941 Farmall B with 6 bottom plow.

Many people participated in the Domestic Arts Show this year. People's Choice winners were Sage Behn, Elsie McIntosh, Joyanna Kies, and Karen Rottinghaus. The Centennial category also drew in a lot of interesting entries. These items were for display only and showed some of the history of Jesup. Those who participated were Cally Bengston, Monica Bengston, Karen Frost, Carrie Wall, Brian Zuck, Emi Zuck, Nicole Bengston, Tony Bengston, Terry Bengston, and Pat McIntosh.

Carl Acuff Jr. brought the Carl Acuff Jr. Show to the stage on Saturday night with all the music and comedy promised. Like most of the other stage performances, Carl Acuff Jr. had the Pavilion full.

Liverpool, the Beatles tribute band that performed last year, returned to Farmers Day Saturday night, once again filling up the Pavilion and surrounding area with a crowd. Associated acts Gary Charlson and The Crayons also performed before and after Liverpool.

Other musical artists performing this year were ataglance, Drivel, and Stackhouse. Local rock band ataglance performed on Thursday night. Drivel, made up of many of the same members, performed in the Gazebo on Saturday.

The dates for next year's Farmers Day are already set up! Make sure to mark your calendars for the weekend of July 7-9, 2016.

History of local celebrations revisited
By Michaela Hug

The 100th Farmers Day celebration begins this week on Thursday and will conclude late Saturday night. Although this is the 100th celebration, the history of Farmers Day in Jesup spans at least 123 years.

Though the actual beginning of Farmers Day is unrecorded, the first mention of such an event was found in a newspaper dated 1892. At that time, Farmers Day wasn't necessarily a celebration -- it was a time for farmers to bring produce they wanted to sell to a central location, with entertainment, such as horse racing, ball games, and various races, simply being provided to entice more people to come. In the evening of the 1892 event, the southern military drama "Dixie" was performed in the Bank Opera House, followed by a dance. It was held on a Saturday in September that year, but was soon moved to a Wednesday and Thursday in August.

In the year 1900, more events were added to the lineup: band and vocal performances, an oration, "Toilers of the Field," more races, and nail-driving and biscuit-eating contests. Cash prizes were given to the winners of competitions.

In 1910, the Wednesday of Farmers Day drew a large crowd. Attractions that year were described in the Jesup Quasquicentennial book "A Community Tapestry," which was published in 1985, as "the best ever pulled off on a Farmers Day, there being Mitza, the Wild Girl, The Fairies in the Nell, Electric Theatre, free Vaudeville, Circle Swing, the Old Baby Rock, and races."

In the earlier days, Independence Day was a big competitor for Farmers Day. The Fourth of July was one of the most important dates for celebration in the town. In order to solve this problem, Jesup began alternating with a Fourth of July celebration one year, and a Farmers Day the next.

More competition for Farmers Day came with the Jesup Fair and Stock Show, first held in 1918. It offered many stock entries, exhibits, and fine entertainment, which drew not only farmers, but also the general public. Farmers Day was not staged again until the Fair and Stock Show's discontinuance in 1923, though Farmers Day still wasn't an annual celebration until 1928, when local businesses began sponsoring it and giving it more attention. Farmers Day was again put on hold during the critical years of World War II.

Carnival rides and shows were added to Farmers Day in the early 30s. In 1949, the now-famous parade was added to the lineup; 10 years after that in 1959, fireworks showed up in the celebration. In addition to these, the program has held many other events in those years, such as concerts, stage acts, musical performances, a dance, races, ball games, a flower show, water ball fights, talents shows, queen contests, and food sales. Wrestling was also on the bill for a number of years.

Farmers Day moved from Wednesday and Thursday in August to the third Thursday of July in order to avoid conflict with the county fair sometime before 1960. The dates were again moved in 1981 to Friday and Saturday.

In 1960, Jesup's Centennial celebration was part of Farmers Day. On two consecutive nights, Jesup's history was unfolded by way of an epic pageant titled "One Hundred Years on the Perry Prairie." It was directed by Mrs. Paul Boysen, who managed to capture the history of not only Jesup, but also the area before its founding as a town. The production lasted a little over two hours. The Centennial celebration was considered the most outstanding Farmers Day for many years. Among the highlights were the pageant and the annual parade, since it featured the most participation of any parade that had taken place before that time. The enthusiasm and cooperation of the town during the celebration was also outstanding, according to "A Community Tapestry."

In 1983, more additions came to Farmers Day. The children's tractor pull, pet show, and petting zoo are just a few of the events introduced that have lasted through to the present-day celebration.

The Quasquicentennial, the 125th anniversary of the founding of Jesup, again became part of the Farmers Day celebration in 1985. Another pageant was performed, titled "Footprints Through Time," which featured over 200 cast members and dozens of backstage workers, real horses, teepees, covered wagons, can-can dancers, soldiers marching to war, teenagers dancing to the jitterbug, and a backdrop that spanned the length of the school's football field. The production was similar to the one created for the 1960 Centennial celebration, but with the addition of 25 more years of history to cover. This pageant was written and directed by Paul Humeston, and Maxine Oldridge was the musical director. Production manager was Alan Wright. A special stage was made for this production. Built into the "Grand Opera House" portion of the main stage was a second stage, which rolled out on steel tracks up to 12 feet towards the audience. Other events included re-enactments of century old arts, rope-making, soap-making, candles and horseshoes. An ecumenical church service was also held.

Profits brought in by the Quasquicentennial celebration were used to build a roofed pavilion in the downtown "Land 'o Corn" park, which was ready for use by 1986. The Pavilion is used to host many events held today, such as family reunions, summer picnics in the park, weekly lunches sponsored by local churches, and of course, the main Farmers Day stage events. Farmers Day Inc. has funded many additions and improvements to the pavilion over the years, recently including the construction of a permanent stage. For decades, Spahn & Rose Lumber Company of Jesup provided free materials to re-construct the stage each year and continues to provide block and board seating for the pavilion events each year. Farmers Day also built a permanent storage building for the pageant backdrops and other materials used for the celebration near the city shed. The labor to build this shed was provided by Rex Reinhart and his crew from Jesup Gym Equipment entirely for free. In 1996 the Zuck family built the beautiful gazebo in the park, which is a replica of the original park gazebo built many years ago.

These are just three examples of how community members and businesses have continuously stepped forward to help make Farmers Day a successful community celebration, now for one hundred years.

In the Farmers Day celebrations from 1986-2009, a melodrama featuring local people as actors was performed at Farmers Day. From 1986 to 2010, the Iowa State Fair Singers would perform every year. Other yearly events include musical entertainments, a carnival midway, the Square Dance, the 5K Run/Walk, and the Domestic Arts Show. Other classics have been part of the schedule for many years, such as the tractor pull, beer garden, community organization-manned food booths, the children's parade and, of course, the Great Parade held Saturday morning.

In 1993, the last day of Farmer's Day was flooded by heavy rains. Many of the performances planned for the day were canceled, but those that continued as planned drew great crowds despite the weather. The water was so deep in the park that those in the beer tent were knee-deep in water. Someone even launched a canoe on the flooded park.

The Sesquicentennial, the 150th anniversary of this town's founding, again was planned and promoted by the Farmers Day board in 2010. In a week long celebration, the schedule included another four-day long Historical Pageant, which was a re-creation of the 125th pageant with the addition of 25 more years of history. Unfortunately, stormy weather conditions rained out the performance, and high winds damaged the backdrop prior to the first performance. Though the pageant had been set to be performed Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of Farmers Day, the first two nights had to be canceled due to the weather. The remaining two performances were significantly reduced in scope and were held at the Park Pavilion rather than the football field, where it had been originally held 25 and 50 years previously. Other events included in the Sesquicentennial were a Sunday Birthday Breakfast at the United Methodist Church, Bingo, a beard contest and historical costume contest, and Splash Dogs entertainment. An ecumenical church service was held again.

The tractor pull hasn't been a scheduled event at Farmers Day since 2012. It is now a separately scheduled annual event sponsored by the Jesup Lions Club.

Farmers Day, Inc., a local group, has sponsored the Farmers Day celebration for many years.

Current board members are: Alan Wright, President, Dawn Quackenbush, Treasurer, Dale Rueber, Secretary, and Kim Edward Adams, Peggy Shaffer, and Wayne Natvig.

Farmers Day asks for support from the community

"It takes a lot of willing people and lots of money to make Farmers Day happen each year," explained Farmers Day president Alan Wright. "In order for Farmers Day to continue as it has for so many years, we need to have enough income each year. We ask all attendees of Farmers Day events to be sure to patronize all the local Farmers Day vendors, including food and beverage providers located in the park, so that the Farmers Day board will be able to continue the tradition of successful celebrations for years to come."

It takes over $30,000 to put on the Jesup Farmers Day celebration each summer, according to records of the Farmers Day, Inc. Board of Directors.

Most years, the celebration has returned several thousand dollars in cash flow (income over expenses) to the Farmers Day bank account.

This money is kept on hand as a self-funded insurance policy to make sure all the bills can be paid for the event each year -- even if foul weather or disaster would strike, and all or most of the income expected from the event just wouldn’t materialize. So even in the event of a disastrous year, Farmers Day would have enough money to pay its bills and continue on the next year.

Over the last several decades, Farmers Day has also been able to generate funds for a number of important investments in Farmers Day, and in the community.

1. Farmers Day paid for the building of the huge pavilion in the downtown "Land O’ Corn" Park, where most of the Farmers Day activities take place.

2. Farmers Day paid for the materials for a storage building near the city’s shed on Tenth Street. This storage building is used for Farmers Day materials. (Thanks to Rex Reinhart for providing the labor for this building.)

3. Farmers Day has paid for all or much of many other electrical, concrete and "additions" to the pavilion as needed over the years.

4. Farmers Day funds a scholarship for a Jesup High School senior each year through Dollars for Scholars.

5. Farmers Day has purchased many of the Holiday decorations used in Jesup over the years.

6. Farmers Day has purchased equipment needed to operate the funnel cake stand, investing thousands of dollars over a number of years.

7. Farmers Day paid all the expenses to have the old one-room school house moved to the Jesup School grounds, even moving the rocks from the original foundation into town and replaced them under the school. They also reroofed the old school and put in a new hardwood floor.

8. Farmers Day was in charge of RAGBRAI the year it came through Jesup.

9. Farmers Day made a donation to the Jesup Community School Band program.

10. Farmers Day made a donation to the new All-Weather Track and Football Complex project at Jesup Community School.

11. Farmers Day, in cooperation with the City of Jesup and local organizations, produced the entire Sesquicentennial Celebration in 2010, and the Quasquicentennial Celebration in 1985. Most communities have to fundraise for months to have an historical community celebration.

12. And last, but not least, Farmers Day provides the opportunity for civic and religious organizations to raise funds for a good deal of their annual expenses with their Farmers Day food stands.

However, over the past several years, Farmers Day has seen its largest income stream -- the beer garden -- drop in half.

The beer garden income normally represents 30% or more of the entire celebration’s operating budget, enough to pay for all the FREE entertainment each year.

In the last two years, however, that income stream has dropped almost in half, resulting in an actual cash loss for Farmers Day in 2012.


The major income streams for Farmers Day each year are:

• The Beer Garden
• The Carnival, which pays a percentage of its income to Farmers Day
• Local non-profit organizations, which contribute 15% of their sales to Farmers Day;
• The Funnel Cake/Mini Donut Stand, which is operated by Farmers Day;
• The 5K Run
• Miscellaneous income -- which comes from souvenir sales, t-shirts (when available), history books, cook books, etc.


Expenses for Farmers Day include:

• Stage Entertainment.
This is the largest part of the Farmers Day budget each year, taking 30-50% of the income. Admission has always been free to every single Farmers Day entertainment event -- and frequently Farmers Day is the ONLY venue where a person can see these quality entertainers without paying an admission charge.

• Marketing and Advertising.

Farmers Day has successfully promoted this event regionally for many, many years, resulting in huge turnouts for the celebration each year. Less than 10% of the event’s income is used for marketing.

• Cost of goods sold.

This is the cost of the beer and other beverages, the mix for the donuts and funnel cakes, beer licenses, t-shirts (when sold) etc.

• Insurance

A major expense for Farmers Day each year is insurance coverage.

• Miscellaneous.

There are many miscellaneous expenses each year. Prizes for the parade and domestic arts, printing of flyers, tickets, sign-up sheets, decorations and more.

The Farmers Day board decided to NOT offer t-shirts for sale this year because in recent years very little money, if any, has been made from the t-shirts.


It takes hundreds, maybe even thousands of volunteer hours to make Farmers Day happen.

President Alan Wright, and board members Dawn Quackenbush, Dale Rueber, Peggy Shaffer, Wayne Natvig and Kim Adams put in many volunteer hours planning the event each year. Chairpersons for each of the major events also spent a great deal of time planning, then carrying out these events. They include: Doug Frush for the beer garden; Sarah Curry for the Prince and Princess Contest; Wayne Natvig for the Great Parade; Dawn Quackenbush for the Talent Show; Teri Schares for the Children’s Parade; Josh Zuck for the Children’s Games; Pat McIntosh and Karen Frost for the Domestic Arts Show; Kyle Troyer and Steve Pedersen for the 5K run; Jerry and Donna Amfahr for the Square Dance; Paul Nagel for the children’s Tractor Pull, Dave Sabers for all the seating in the pavilion and Alan Wright for everything else!

Each of the organizations that provides food or entertainment booths also have hundreds of volunteer hours involved. They include: St. Athanasius Bingo and Food Booth, Boy Scout Food Both, Lions Club Brats and Hot Dog stand; Jesup School Lemonade Stand; Friends of Library Popcorn and Ice Cream stand.

Request for Support

"We thank all the thousands of people who have supported Farmers Day over the years," Wright concluded. "We ask for your continued support this year."