Mahaska County is home to various campgrounds, including County Parks, Eveland Access Cabins, Lake Keomah, and the Southern Iowa Fairgrounds.
Mahaska County has over 1,300 acres of forests, wetlands, prairies, and parks to explore. The Mahaska County Conservation Board manages 20 separate parks, river accesses and wildlife areas with over six miles of maintained trails. "The MCCB offers year round environmental education programs for all ages, from classroom school programs to field trips in the parks, nature hikes and outdoor field days. Our free quarterly newsletter (The Prairie Star), a monthly page in the local newspaper, weekly radio program, and presentation to clubs, civic groups, and community organizations are all geared towards educating the public to better understand, appreciate, and protect the environment that sustains us all. For more information and park listings, visit MahaskaConservation.com.
Eveland Access Cabins
There are now two cabins for rent at Eveland Access on the Des Moines River, eight miles southwest of Oskaloosa. Both the Birch and Apple Cabins feature two bedrooms, a full kitchen and bath, and will sleep up to ten people. They're perfect for family vacations, fishing and hunting trips, boating on the river, or offroading at the nearby Bluff Creek ATV Park.
The Sheets Addition to Eveland Access has 18 campsites equipped with electrical hookups for RVs or campers. Also, the MCCB received a $10,000 Sustainable Community Committee Grant for the Eveland Access Campground. The playground is a Center Stage Play System design from Miracle Recreation Equipment. Eveland Access also features a sand volleyball court that is open to the public.
For more information, see the Mahaska County Conservation Board website.
Lake Keomah State ParkThis 84 acre lake provides a beautiful setting for modern campsites, picnic lodges and hiking trails to keep any outdoor enthusiast busy for a weekend or two.
Visit the Iowa DNR website for more information.
Southern Iowa Fairgrounds
The Southern Iowa Fair is a major attraction for the city of Oskaloosa in late July.
The Southern Iowa Fair was first held on October 23, 1852, in the Oskaloosa city square. The fair included a livestock show that was held outside of town and horse racing was held on a course that is now North G Street. Today, the Southern Iowa Fair includes activities ranging from 4-H and FFA livestock competitions to concerts, harness racing to stockcar racing and a demolition derby.
In 1858 and 1859, the Iowa State Fair was held in Oskaloosa. The fairs were held on an unfenced fairgrounds northwest of Oskaloosa. By 1860, state officials permanently move the state fair to Des Moines.
The Southern Iowa Fair Livestock Pavilion is a versatile building - it has been used for events ranging from livestock shows to weddings.
Oskaloosa building contractor P.W. Sparks built the Stock Judging Pavilion at the fairgrounds in 1919. The pavilion, along with the Iowa State Fair pavilion in Des Moines and the Cattle Congress in Waterloo, are the only ones in the state with a round shape.
The pavilion was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 12, 1984.
The 156-foot by 116-foot, 14-sides polygonal pavilion has a 115-foot by 69-foot show arena. According to the August 18 1919, edition of The Oskaloosa Daily Herald, the pavilion cost $15,000. It was composed of concrete, brick and steel, and it has wooden seats with a capacity for 2,000 people. The bleacher area has wooden floors, and the show arena has a dirt and sand floor.
During the pavilion's lifetime, fair board officials conducted some improvement projects. The cupola was removed in 1945. In 1989, steel siding was installed on the pavilion's exterior. The windows around the top of the building were removed and hinged doors were added for better ventilation and some rewiring work was done.
The Exhibit Hall and the Varied Industry buildings are hubs for activities with many 4-H projects placed in the Exhibit Hall and many booths for local businesses set up in the Varied Industries Building. When they are not in use at fair time, the buildings are rented out for weddings or reunions.