Each year at the Jackson County Fair, you can count on a few of your favorite things: Funnel cakes, a Ferris wheel and Iowa’s largest fair parade.
But there’s one thing that always changes and that’s the animal exhibit.
“We’ve had lions, we’ve had tigers, we’ve had bears, oh my!” says Lanny Simpson, manager of the Jackson County Fairgrounds.
Each year, Simpson brings a different animal to the fair.
This year, it’s wolves.
Simpson says the goal is to not only make sure everyone has fun but also gets a little lesson along the way.
“We want people to be more educated as far as animals around the world,” she says.
That’s a goal that Sharon Sandlofer shares.
She’s the owner of the Wolf Pack Project.
“Learn about wolves, know their importance to our environment and know that they’re not the big bad wolf that they’re portrayed to be as we learn about them as children,” explains Simpson.
That’s what brings the world of wolves to Maquoketa for the first time.
Sandlofer has been living with her pack for more than a decade now and she’s here to show and tell 12 of her wolves.
“We bring out three separate groups, the first being the alpha female and we talk about her and her responsibility and her part in the pack,” Sandlofer says.
“You could have a pack of 20 wolves but only the alpha male and female will mate and have young.”
She also shares information about the rest of the family.
“The whole pack joins in caring for them when they are born. We could learn so much from them, really.”
Other facts you won’t necessarily hear during the show.
“They eat about five pounds of raw meat everyday. It’s kind of a daily, or at least couple trips a week to Walmart, thank you Walmart,” laughs Sandlofer.
But Sandlofer hopes you end up walking away with this: “They’re really a loving, caring animal that’s very important to our ecosystem.”
And depending on their moods, you might be able to pet a wolf pup.
That interaction is something Simpson looks for when picking her exhibits.
“You come to the fair, you want to be part of it,” she says.