Spencer is in Western Iowa. A small town with a population of roughly 11,000. It is the county seat of Clay county. It is surrounded by a large area of agricultural land. The Little Sioux River runs through the town and divides it into North and South. Spencer is home to one of the largest county fairs in the world, the Clay County Fair. Being the largest community in the area attracts many people from smaller surrounding communities for both recreation and work.
Spencer was put on the map in the late 1980s, when the town library adopted an abandoned kitten and named him Dewey. Dewey became the unofficial town mascot over his 19-year lifespan. The head librarian's best-selling book, Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World offers an indelibly vivid portrait, not just of the beloved cat, but also of the town, and rural Iowa in general. It's a must-read for anyone headed to Spencer.
The best way into Spencer is by automobile. It lies on the intersection of Highway 71 and Highway 18. It is approximately 2 hours northeast of Sioux City, 3.5 hours northwest of Des Moines, or 1.5 hours southeast of Sioux Falls.
Automobile is the most common way to get around. However, there is a large trail system for bikes and other non-motorized methods of transportation that runs through the entire city. Once can also walk and see many areas of the town. There is a taxi company. If you are many in number there is the area Rides bus service which can be used to transport both groups and those with limited mobility.
While Spencer is a small town, there are still some things to get out there and do.
- Inkpaduta Canoe Trail - This is a stretch of the Little Sioux River that is great for a day trip with a kayak or canoe. The lazy waters are great for beginners or a trips for the entire family. The most common starting point is just off the Grand Ave. Bridge in West Leach Park, at which there is a small ramp down to the river. There are a few things to keep in mind. In the early Spring months, the water can be quite cold. Also, you will want to make sure that there is a good and safe amount of water. Too little, and you will be dragging your boats over sandbars. Too much and the dangers increase. But overall, this is a wonderful trip for all levels of paddlers.
- 1 Clay County Fair, 800 W 18th St (near Highway 71 and Highway 18). This is marketed as the World's Largest County Fair. Usually from the 2nd to 3rd weekends in September, there are exhibits of all sorts, a midway with rides and games, tons of delicious (if not the most nutritious) food, and shows throughout the day and in the evenings. Groups such as Lynard Skynyrd, Leann Rimes, Weird Al Yankovic, ZZTop, Clay Aiken, and Frankie Valley and the Four Seasons have all performed at the Clay County fair. There is a large agricultural theme, but there is plenty more for those who are not interested. Tickets sold in advance throughout most of the community. Entrance price varies by age and date.
- Disc Golf Course - This disc golf course is a great way to spend some afternoon. It offers nine holes of varying difficulty and is very popular with area citizens. People can play quite seriously or just have some fun. It doesn't cost anything to play, but you must bring your own frisbees. And keep an eye out for hole 9, it can be a little tricky getting between those trees.
Parks and trails
Spencer is home to many parks throughout the city with a variety of opportunities.
- Oneota Park - Located on the eastern edge of town, south of the high school, this park offers trails along the river and a shelter for picnics and other outings.
- East Leach Park - Located on the east side of Grand Ave in the middle of town, this park Has a campground, skate park for skateboarding and rollerblading, a large playground area, a bandshell, and trails throughout the entire area. This is right in the middle of town and many events are held here.
- West Leach Park - On the other side of the road from East Leach Park, this park offers access to the Little Sioux River, a smaller playground area, and the Disc Golf Course.
- 1 Spencer Hospital, 1200 1st Ave E (One block east of Highway 71). Small-town hospital with emergency services, in-patient behavioral health facility, and intensive care unit.
- 2 Avera Medical Group Spencer, 116 East 11th St #101, ☏ . M–Th 3:30–6:30PM, F 3:30–5PM, Sa 8AM–1PM. "Quick Care" services offers same-day medical services without an appointment.
|Routes through Spencer|
|Junction N S ← Sheldon ←||W E||→ Algona → Mason City|
|Jackson ← Okoboji ←||N S||→ Storm Lake → Atlantic|