Spencer’s small-town charm is blended with a cosmopolitan flair and excitement for a unique offering of entertainment and activities. The community takes pride in its fine arts. Patrons of the arts can sample from a multitude of events and programs in Spencer and surrounding communities.
Spencer Community Theatre
Theatrical performances have been provided for more than 43 years in Spencer. Live theater productions are held year-round at the Spencer Community Theatre (SCT), which is housed in the former Spencer Grocer Building. SCT is also home to the Costume Shop — a non-profit organization that rents over 30,000 costumes and accessories at an affordable price to high schools, colleges, community theaters and various other organizations. SCT is located one block east of The Hotel in downtown Spencer. For more information about SCT, curtain times and upcoming productions, contact the box office at 712.262.7336 or visit www.spencercommunitytheatre.com.
Arts on Grand
Arts on Grand (AOG) is located on Spencer’s Main Street, and is operated by the Spencer Area Arts Council, a non-profit organization founded in 1979. The facility offers a gift gallery, exhibit gallery, lower level studios and a resource library to fulfill the artistic needs of all ages and levels. The Arts Council welcomes opportunities to collaborate on projects with other organizations and businesses. The gallery is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays.
Courses in painting and drawing with various mediums, pottery, broken tile mosaic, enameling, writing, darkroom photography and more are held throughout the year. Weekend, after-school and evening hours are available to accommodate all schedules.
AOG’s gift gallery sells limited art supplies and original artwork by more than 100 regional artists. The exhibit gallery provides display space for local and regional artists and occasional traveling exhibits. Gallery receptions provide an opportunity for exhibiting artists to share thoughts behind artwork on display.
Arts on Grand also offers an extensive array of resource materials on all art topics. Materials from the National Gallery of Art are on permanent loan to AOG for patrons to reference. Magazines, books, instructional videos, video recordings of recent coffee house concerts and artist gallery talks, and foreign films on DVD are also available. Materials can be checked out at your convenience for free.
For more information about Arts on Grand, call 712.262.4307, visit their website at www.artsongrand.com, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Gathering is a public art project granted by the National Endowment for the Arts. The mosaic tells the story of Spencer and the values and traditions that residents treasure. Area volunteers spent hundreds of hours constructing the mosaic piece, which permanently stands on the corner of Fourth Street Southeast and Grand Avenue or Highway 71 at the entrance of East Leach Park.
Spencer Area Concert Association
The Spencer Area Concert Association (SACA) brings professional performing artists to Spencer for an annual concert series. SACA presents four to five concerts between September and May each season.
The Spencer Area Concert Association is a volunteer organization with no paid employees. Recent series programs have included classical soloists and chamber ensembles, jazz, folk music, dancers, Broadway revues and popular music. A reciprocal agreement exists with other community concert associations in the region, allowing members of the Spencer Area Concert Association to attend concerts in Algona, Sheldon and Windom, Minnesota for no additional charge — providing 16 concerts a year. For more information, contact Don Moore at 712.262.6683.
Spencer Municipal Band
The Spencer Municipal Band is a group of area musicians who perform six weekly concerts at various locations throughout the summer. Concert locations include the East Leach Park Band Shelter, the Clay County Fair Grandstand and the Spencer Municipal Utilities Lawn. The band is under the direction of Janet Boyens and Kurt Schwark. For more information regarding the performances, contact Janet Boyens at 712.834.2124.
Spencer Public Library
The Spencer Public Library (21 East 3rd St.) provides books, research materials, Internet access, compact discs, videos, art and genealogy materials to its patrons. Join the Best Sellers Club and get your favorite books without bothering to place a reservation. Friends of the Library volunteer their time to assist with various events — including the promotion of literacy, reading and the library itself. For more information, call 712.580.7290 or visit www.spencerlibrary.com.
Bogenrief Studios has been creating exquisite and highly detailed works of art in glass for more than a quarter of a century, and truly push the limits of glass as a medium. With it’s 20,000-square-feet of production space and large showrooms, Bogenrief Studios can handle commissions and site specific installations of almost any size and complexity. One-of-a-kind hot glass and blown glass art pieces are offered. Bogenrief Studio’s superior glassblowing artists offer free demonstrations. For more information, call 712.580.5556 or visit www.bogenriefstudios.com.
Southpark Seven, operated by Fridley Theaters, is located at the Southpark Mall in Spencer. The theater provides seven movie screens and stadium seating. Fridley Theaters also operates the three-screen discount theater in downtown Spencer.
The history of Spencer and Clay County is as rich as the fertile farmland that makes up the countryside. Clay County is home to four official museums and numerous other historical points of interest.
Parker Historical Society of Clay County-Spencer
The Parker Museum house, built in 1916, is an excellent example of a Craftsman style house, typical of the Arts & Crafts Movement (ca. 1905-1929).
A local contractor built this house for Mr. and Mrs. Roy Webb. Mr. Webb was known as a fine breeder of horses, cattle and swine; owned several farms; and was part of a group that successfully organized the present Clay County Fair Association. Mr. Webb was the first president of that group, serving for seven years.
In 1929, the house was sold to Rev. James E. Parker and his wife, Cordelia. They both shared a love of history, and they helped to establish the Parker Historical Society in 1960 to honor the memory of the early pioneers. The Parkers bequeathed the home to the Society, which took possession in 1969.
The Parker Museum collection now contains thousands of artifacts relating to life in Clay County — including vintage clothing, glassware, agriculture items, a schoolroom, blacksmith shop, and the 1918 LaFrance Fire truck used in the 1931 Spencer Fire.
Parker Museum is located at 300 East Third Street. Open hours are available Tuesday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. For more information, call 712.262.3304 or visit www.parkermuseum.org.
Royal Historical Museum — Royal
The Riverton Number Eight Fair Play School was built in 1935 and moved to Royal in 1947. Restoration of the school building began in 1999. The museum features school house items, Royal business memorabilia, historical information on Royal’s four churches, and a Veteran’s displays. The museum is open by appointment. For more information, contact Home State Bank at 712.933.5511.
Kirchner Park Museum — Peterson
As the first settlement in Clay County, Peterson has numerous impressive historical markers (including the first and only fort in the area — Fort Peterson). The Christian Kirchner home, built in 1867, was the first frame house in Clay County. The home remained in Kirchner family possession until 1971 when it was given to the Town of Peterson. The town restored and renovated the home.
Additional exhibits in Peterson include Fort Peterson Blockhouse, the Kirchner Log Cabin, the Rock Forest Schoolhouse and The French Memorial Museum. For more information or to schedule a tour, contact Burdette Stier at 712.295.6443 or email email@example.com.
Jim Hass’ History Barn — Peterson
Jim Hass’ restored, vintage barn houses an expansive personal collection of memorabilia from Clay County’s history. The barn is located in Peterson on Fourth Street (M27). For more information or to schedule a tour, contact Jim Hass at 712.295.6552.
Additional Historic Sites in Clay County include:
Sunny Brooks School — Everly
The 1927 schoolhouse has been restored for public viewing.
Clay County Courthouse — Spencer
Built in 1901 at a cost of $60,000, the current Clay County courthouse was the county’s third courthouse and the second building in Spencer. It has been fully restored, and is fully operational.
Clay County Fair Association
The Clay County Agriculture Society was organized in 1879, and is significant to the history of Spencer. In 1917, it formed the Clay County Fair Association, which has since grown into the greatest county fair in the world. The nine-day fair attracts more than a quarter of a million visitors annually.
The Clay County Fair is known as a world-class event with headline entertainment second-to-none. Performances are held nightly before the grandstand throngs. A variety of free daily entertainment is also provided for fairgoers on various stages located throughout the festival’s expansive grounds. The agriculturally-based fair has one of the nation’s largest display of tractors and agricultural equipment. Daily livestock shows and 4-H exhibits are also held on the fairgrounds.
Fairgoers enjoy enduro races, a skid loader rodeo, harness races, rodeos, stock car races, extreme monster truck nationals, and truck and tractor pulls.
The Smoky Mountain Central Railroad is a historic attraction that has been displayed at the fair since 1947. More than 625 commercial exhibitor booths feature everything from home and farm needs to collectables and trinkets, while 65 food vendors serve hungry fairgoers.
The Clay County Fair also features daily carnival rides and the Skyglider Aerial Tramway, which offers riders an aerial view of the expansive fairgrounds. Additional transportation is available, and the grounds are handicapped accessible.
For more information about the Clay County Fair, call 712.262.4740 or visit www.claycountyfair.com.