Aug. 14, 2006
McLeod County Fair changes to Wed.-Sun. this year
By Jenni Sebora
If you’re planning on going to the McLeod County Fair this summer, it won’t take place on the usual Friday through Tuesday. This year, the fair will start Wednesday Aug. 16, and end Sunday, Aug. 20.
“I am sure there was a reason 50 years ago (why the fair started on a Friday and ended on a Tuesday). Having the fair end on a Tuesday is anticlimactic,” fair manager and secretary Marian Filk said thus the day changes to a WednesdaySunday fair schedule.
The McLeod County Fair did not always take place in August either. Prior to 1960, the fair was conducted in September, and in 1960, the fair dates changed from September to August.
The fair location has changed over time, as well. The first county fair was in 1872, in downtown Hutchinson, and in 1877, the fair moved a little east, where the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul dept. was located, according to the McLeod County Fair history booklet, 1972 1992.
Almost two decades later, in 1896, the fairgrounds moved farther southeast; and in September, 1991, the fairground property was sold to Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, and the fair relocated to its present site, 800 Century Avenue, late in the summer of 1992.
In spite of a very wet fall, spring, and summer, the 1993 McLeod County Fair took place at the new site.
“We have a great fairgrounds, and everyone across the state is envious of McLeod County fairgrounds,” Filk said.
These fairgrounds also play host to many other events and activities throughout the year, from dance festivals to sporting events to livestock sales, which was the vision of the building committee when the new fairgrounds were being planned and built.
The building committee envisioned a place where people could gather for family celebrations, youth could learn the fine art of dance and participate in sports, organizations could hold their annual meetings and livestock sales, the fair’s web site, www.mcleodcountyfair.com noted. All of these events, plus many more, have taken place at the McLeod County fairgrounds.
A few different stages and areas will, once again, provide entertainment at the fair. The Corporate stage, the Pavilion, and the Promise stage, which was built about five years ago and is geared at family and children’s entertainment, all offer free entertainment. The grandstand events, however, require ticket purchases.
Entertainment this year will include Garage Bands, The Rhythm Kings, Spatter Sisters, Chuck Thiel, Cindy Cook Environmental Show, The Callen Family, Veggie Races, The Shaw Brothers, The Cogleys, Norman Barnhart, Prairie Rose with Joe McPherson, Oak Heights Sponsors, Wally Pikal, Lyndon Peterson, Lester Shuft, Somethin’ More, and Animal Producers, as well as clown performances, a pedal pull, and 4-H shows, demonstrations, and contests, among other events.
The Phoenix Drumline will also perform Friday, Senior Citizen’s Day. Other fair days also focus on a special group or entity with special events planned.
The first day of the fair, Wednesday, Aug. 16, is Community Day, sponsored by KDUZ KARP. Thursday, Aug. 17 is Education Day, sponsored by the Hutchinson Theater Company.
Fireworks will, once again, bring in the fair “with a bang” as a fireworks display can be seen on the fairgrounds in that evening.
Friday, Senior Citizen’s Day, will feature a special senior citizen program, with entertainment following by Lyndon Peterson.
Cash Wise sponsors Kids’ Day on Saturday of the fair, with special children’s events and entertainment, such the Sky Hawks air show, Veggie Races, The Cogley Sisters, and a girl’s and boy’s bike drawing.
The popular “good old days” thrashing show takes place Saturday and will provide good entertainment, as well as an education for kids about the “good old days.”
The last day of the fair, Sunday, Aug. 20, has been designated Family Day, sponsored by HCMC Medical Center, with events to include square dancing, a magician show, the annual McLeod County talent contest, the antique tractor show, and all-star wrestling.
Al Freser, the chain saw artist, will be at the fair Saturday and Sunday also.
And of course, rounding out the fair’s festivities are the drawings for the Habitat Humanity play house and the grand prize car Sunday.
McLeod County Fair is one of the few fairs that gives a car away.
“They have done this (car drawing) for years. It is a tradition, and not many other county fairs do this,” Filk said.
But it wasn’t always a car that was given away. The prize drawing began in 1897, the 25th anniversary of the fair, when W. W. Sivright gave away an elegant buggy to the lucky ticket holder. As transportation changed, so did the grand prize, thus an automobile grand prize drawing.
Aside from these major prize drawings, there are also nightly attendance prize drawings.
Gold Star Amusements will, once again, provide the midway fun each day with midway specials on certain days, including a $15 pay one price good for all rides and ages special, for a period of extended time on Wednesday and Friday
And of course, throughout the fair days, the various barns and buildings offer much in free entertainment in the form of various shows, exhibits, displays, and competitions.
One can’t speak about the fair without mentioning the popular grandstand events. As horse racing and other horse shows were the major events in the grandstand years ago, horses are back once again at the grand stand this year.
Saturday, Aug. 19, a rodeo will be the center of the action in the grandstand. Auto cross is back Wednesday evening, and moto cross, Friday evening.
Sunday will be a busy day at the grandstand, with an afternoon imperial stunt show and the popular demolition derby in the evening.