With The Linn County Fair just weeks away there is much excitement in the air. Not only will the fair be celebrating our 125th Anniversary, we will also be breaking ground during the fair for a new all-purpose building. This building has been a dream of many, including the person the building project has been named after, Lynn Dunn.
As we prepare for the fair and the new building we want to give you a little history on who Lynn was and what The Linn County Fair meant to him. This year we will be “Celebrating our Past…Imagining our Future” with the help of the legacy that Lynn left behind.
Lynn Dunn was born on July 16, 1950 in Cedar Rapids to Eugene and Ruthann Dunn. He was the oldest of five children including, Lance, Linda, Louan, and Lisa. In his youth, Lynn, was part of the Linn County 4-H program as a member of the Prairie Union Wildcats. He showed sheep and belonged to the leadership club. He always joked that he was “a social member,” as he loved being with people and participating in the activities.
August 18, 1973 Lynn married Jean E. Wild of Viola. They started their family with the birth of their first son Ryan on September 22, 1979. Their second son, Sean, came along a few years later. Lynn took pride in his family and his service in the Iowa Army National Guard. In 1989 after 20 years of service in the Guard, Lynn traded in his army gear to become a 4-H parent, since Ryan had joined 4-H that year. His wife, Jean, remembers that he thought it was the perfect time to also get involved and help with the fair. A lot of his friends were active with the fair association. He had asked himself “why not get involved?” He could work with his friends, help kids learn while having fun, and have fun himself.
Lynn loved everything about the fair and hated seeing it end every year. Seeing kids grow into confident young adults was so rewarding for him. The enthusiasm and excitement of fair week energized him. Seeing families work together fair week always made him so happy.
Jean describes that as a family, fair week was just crazy but so rewarding. The boys (Ryan & Sean) showed beef, sheep, horses, and even swine & dairy few times. Their family was so involved in the fair that “their pickup & livestock trailer knew the way to the fairgrounds! “
Besides being on the fairboard Lynn became a 4-H leader of the Prairie Union Wildcats in 1990. This too, gave him an opportunity to watch youth grow and develop into responsible, young adults. He was also an active member of Faith Lutheran Church where he enjoyed singing in the choir.
Lynn had several visions for The Linn County Fair. One was to see the fair grow to be able to provide more learning opportunities and activities for the youth and residents of Linn County to enjoy. He would be overjoyed with all the events being offered at the fair today, which in turn has drawn more attendees every year. It was important to him that as the fair grows to always have the 4-H, FFA, and youth to remain an important focus of the fair. This goal is still a main focus of The Linn County Fair Association.
A second dream of Lynn’s was to have a building that could be utilized year round for activities. Lynn loved the fair industry in general. He always felt “fair people” were so warm and friendly. His involvement with the fair industry went beyond The Linn County Fair. He attended many of the regional, state and national fair conferences. He felt that networking at the conferences was always beneficial and informative. Much of what he learned, he brought back and made suggestions that was used to help shape the future of The Linn County Fair. Lynn had so much passion for the fair industry and what it had to offer, that he was enrolled in the International Association of Fairs and Exhibitions Fair Management Institute at the time of this death.
Lynn passed away suddenly on March 12, 2008 while attending a Fair Managers conference in St. Louis, Missouri. Lynn’s love of the fair and fair industry became contagious and is one of the reasons the Dunn family donated the memorial money as seed money for the Lynn Dunn Memorial Building Project. Lynn’s family includes his wife Jean Dunn of Marion; son Ryan and wife Krista, granddaughter Kaitlyn of Ankeny; son Sean and his wife Jennifer of Central City; his father Eugene and wife Irene of Solon; and siblings Lance (Karen) Dunn, Linda (Wayne) Blackford, Louan (Jim) Handke, and Lisa Hoffman all of Marion.
Since the building project began, fundraising has been driven by personal donations, “Kick-Off” fair events, other events and several grants. The Linn County Fair Association continues to raise funds to cover the construction cost of the project. For more information on how to donate to the project please go to http://thelinncountyfair.com/lynn-dunn.html. Lynn would be excited about the building and appreciative of the community support for the project and the fair in general. “He is smiling down at us all.”
Renderings of the Lynn Dunn Memorial Building
The Linn County Fair in Central City from June 26th- July 1st, 2013