July 24, 2006
The Wright County Fair
By Jenni Sebora
“The Wright County Fair provides entertainment, education and competition for all,” is the mission statement the Wright County fair board has adopted for the Wright County Fair.
That mission statement holds true to its word, as the 2006 rendition of the Wright County Fair continues to offer numerous activities aimed at entertaining, educating and/or competing.
4-H participation by students, excellent grandstand action, free entertainment, daily cash prize drawings and fair food are what 35-year board member Dennis Beise describes as some of the great attributes of the Wright County Fair, which certainly all fall under the mission statement.
There are events that run throughout the fair’s longevity, Wednesday, July 26 Sunday, July 30, and other events that occur at special times throughout the fair.
The exotic animals petting zoo, silly pig races, rock wall climbing, 4-H shows and demonstrations, Midway rides and activities and, of course, the delicious fair food are among the fun things to experience every day at the fair.
Back by popular demand are the daily helicopter and monster truck rides, and Tinker Toys displays can be viewed daily also.
Fair goers have chances to win cash prizes daily, playing bingo, noon to closing daily, and through cash drawings, awarded Thursday through Sunday evenings.
The popular free entertainment can be seen and heard from different locations throughout the fair’s running. The Free Entertainment Tent, sponsored by Pepsi and Budweiser, offers such musical entertainment as karaoke contests, including the search for the “Wright County Idol.” Establishment owners are invited to enter and sponsor their best karaoke singers for a chance to win the title of “Wright County Idol.”
The kids’ karaoke contest will delight fair goers on Friday, and the famous fiddler’s contest on Sunday.
America’s largest talent showcase, the Colgate Country Showdown, will take the stage at the free entertainment tent on Saturday, July 29, at 3 p.m.
This year, at the Wright County Fair, the showdown is being sponsored by KRWC AM 1360 Radio for Wright County and will showcase aspiring, country music artists. Winners will advance to their respective state competitions where they will compete for a cash prize, a title and the chance to continue to advance.
The Free stage, among other fair locations, will also provide a myriad of entertainment experiences. The opening ceremonies will get the fair activities going on Wednesday at 6 p.m. on the Free stage followed by the “Fairest of the Fair” royalty coronation.
Chopper will cap off the musical entertainment for the evening in front of the grandstand, from 9 midnight.
The Free stage will be the home of other fine musical melodies and dancing entertainment, including the Be A Star Performance Team on Friday at 5 p.m. On Saturday afternoon, families can catch some fun family entertainment with Jungle Sam and the Safari Band, with performances at 1 and 3 p.m., and the Wright Jammers will provide country music lovers with some country, old time and accordion music at 5 p.m.
Winners from Thursday’s talent contest will perform for the general public on the Free stage on Saturday evening.
Monroe Crossing, the Midwest’s premier Bluegrass and Gospel quintet, will take the Free stage on Sunday afternoon with two performances as well. The “one man band” Lyndon Peterson will entertain folks with country-western favorites from 5 8 p.m.
And of course, all of the 4-H exhibits and shows provide entertainment and educational experiences for fair goers of all ages. As Beise noted, Wright County Fair has great participation by 4-H members.
Aside from the 4-H demonstrations and exhibits, there are numerous other activities to entertain and educate all fair goers. Wright County Master Gardeners will once again be on hand on Thursday through Sunday of the fair to answer lawn, garden, tree or shrub questions. One can also observe live butterflies, caterpillars, and chrysalis and butterfly eggs. The demonstration garden will feature various plants as well.
Kids can experiences how school was when their grandparents were young by attending the Historic Welker School, a free event from 9 a.m. noon, Thursday and Friday of the fair.
The Wright County Historical Society sponsors this event, and reservations are required by calling the Wright County Heritage Center.
Kids can also scramble for coins buried in piles of sawdust at 1:30 p.m. every day, Thursday Sunday.
Trailing the Farm, a miniature farm display will be on display in a trailer daily, and a classic car show will interest all those classic car buffs on Thursday, July 27.
Special for the senior citizens is Friday, senior citizen day at the fair, which offers free admission until 1 p.m. for senior citizens and a special senior citizens day program at 12:30 p.m. at the Free stage.
A Raptors program, a toy and sports card show, a clown show, and new this year, Franko’s Magic Show and Hypnosis demo will all be part of the fair’s events.
Everyone is once again welcome to the Sunday morning non-denominational church service at 11 a.m. on the Free stage.
On Saturday, 2 4 p.m., a special appearance by local girl Terri Traen from the KQRS morning show will be made. And on Sunday afternoon, the Free stage will welcome motivational speaker David Parnell, as he will share his story and struggle with methamphetamine. Parnell has devoted his life to fighting methamphetamine and has shared his story in 13 states, Canada and England.
The competitions and contests are many and varied at the fair also, with contests for animals, babies, children and adults. The contests run the gamut, from a diaper derby, karaoke contests, talent shows, kids pedal tractor pull, an amateur wrist wrestling contest, dog pull contests, silly pig races, the ATV pull to the various 4-H competitions and the popular lumberjack championships.
Of course, the Grand Stand acts are popular events at the fair. The amateur talent show, which requires no admission, gets the grandstand action going on Thursday evening. On Friday evening and Sunday afternoon, the grand stand will be filled with viewers ready for demo derby action, and on Saturday, an afternoon and an evening truck and tractor pull will rumble the grand stand area.
Working hard all year to organize all of the numerous activities for the fair, is the Wright County fair board, which is comprised of 20 members, a county commissioner liaison and a youth delegate.
The board meets on a monthly basis and more as the fair draws near to discuss new ideas and organize fair activities. When the fair is over, it meets to talk about ideas for next year’s fair, Beise noted.
As there are some changes and additions to the fair each year, the fairgrounds have also experienced changes as well.
In 1884, the Wright County Fair was conducted in Howard Lake and has remained there since. The Howard Lake Herald, Sept. 11, 1884 reported that an amphitheater, a dining hall and a dance hall were constructed at the fair site in Howard Lake to add to the attractions at the fair. Improvements and additions continued to be made to the fair grounds.
Approximately 10 to 15 years ago, the racetrack, which originally was a horse track, was removed to provide more space for the buildings and fairway, Beise explained.
Most recently, the county purchased more land by the fairgrounds. Twenty-seven acres was purchased, of which 11.5 was seeded and will be used for fair parking and expansion, Beise noted.
Wright County Fair
Board of Directors
Jerry Quaal, President
Bernice Schermer, Vice President
Dennis Beise, Secretary
George Mead, Treasurer
Kent Mutterer, Director-at-Large
Karla Heeter, District 1
Pat Sawatzke, District 2
Jack Russek, District 3
Elmer Eichelberg, District 4
Dick Mattson, District 5
Wright County Fair
Wednesday, July 26, 6 p.m.
on the Free Stage