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99 counties, 99 fairs: A trip around Iowa

Stunt rider Jake Goodyear flies through the air during a motorcycle daredevil show at the Delaware County Fair in Manchester, Iowa, on July 11, 2013. Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA

Every summer, each of Iowa's 99 counties throws its own fair. Provincial and patriotic, with beauty pageants and demolition derbies, polka dances and daredevil shows, these rural exhibitions reflect the traditional values and culture of America's heartland.

Though sparsely attended compared to the better-known Iowa State Fair, these small-town gatherings, which run from June through early September, are a source of pride for many Iowans. 

Austin Dykstra escorts fair queen contestant Maddison Stewart to the stage at the start of the queen competition at Mahaska county's Southern Iowa Fair in Oskaloosa on July 15. Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA
Contestants in the Miss Calhoun County Pageant line up before members of the community at the Calhoun County Expo in Rockwell City on July 10. Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA
A group of boys escape the heat and relax in in a beef barn after a market beef and heifer show at the Delaware County Fair in Manchester on July 11. Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA
Jamie Klatt, center, kicks up dust as he races down a dirt track during a chuckwagon race at the Hardin County Fair in Eldora on July 12. Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA
Jena Downs, center, waits with other girls to take the stage during a fashion show at the Delaware County Fair in Manchester on July 11. Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA
Leah Willie, center, 17, who was crowned Delaware County Pork Queen, sits in a parade float advertising pork products during the Delaware County Fair's kick-off parade in Manchester on July 8. Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA
Seven-year-old Kaylin Helms is pictured before leading her cow into the kiddie dairy competition during the Great Jones County Fair and Food Fest in Monticello on July 17. Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA
David 'Kachunga' Castillo tries to catch an American alligator during a performance called 'Kachunga and the Alligator Show' at the Great Jones County Fair and Food Fest in Monticello on July 17. Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA
Fairgoers slouch in their chairs after hypnotist Brian Imbus put them to sleep during a hypnosis show at the Delaware County Fair in Manchester on July 11. Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA
Joyce Novak watches her granddaughter Elise Wing negotiate a makeshift putt-putt course at Marshall County's Central Iowa Fair in Marshalltown on July 12. Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA
Courtney Putz trims the hair on her cow's back after treating it with adhesive to make it stick straight up prior to a heifer competition at the Delaware County Fair in Manchester on July 10. Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA
Participants in a dairy cow competition walk to and from the livestock ring at the Delaware County Fair in Manchester on July 10. Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA
A combo image made from four separate photographs shows carnival food that fairgoers purchased at the Delaware County Fair in Manchester on July 11. They are (clockwise from upper left): a hot dog with ketchup and mustard, curly fries with cheese, a fried corn dog, and a funnel cake with strawberry topping and whip cream. Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA
Left to right: Chris Zweck, Roger Zweck, Aaron Lemon and Josh Roosa ready their car, which they gave the name 'Cornfed,' before the start of figure 8 races at the Hardin County Fair in Eldora on July 13. Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA
Contestants in a demolition derby kick up mud and smoke at the Hardin County Fair in Eldora on July 14. Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA
Kyle Barh is lifted up by a teammate after winning the demolition derby at the Hardin County Fair in Eldora on July 14. Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA
Spectators watch opening night fireworks from a grandstand at the Delaware County Fair in Manchester on July 8. Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA

Previously on PhotoBlog:

Scenes from the Iowa 80 Truckers Jamboree