By Starrla Cray
McLEOD COUNTY, MN Where can you taste free sweet corn, compete in a horse show, watch an extreme demolition derby, listen to a battle of the bands, participate in a chocolate lovers contest, ride a carousel, view classic cars, and much more?
The answer is simple: The McLeod County Fair in Hutchinson, Wednesday, Aug. 17 through Sunday, Aug. 21.
“The official opening of the fair is at 1 p.m., instead of 5 p.m.,” said interim executive secretary/fair manager Casey Walters.
One of the first events is a senior citizens program, starting at 1 p.m., with special entertainment by Flemming Fold.
“We have a lot of really cool bands this year,” Walters said. “Many of them are new, and we also have Hairball for the third year in a row.”
DiamondBack will play the first night of the fair from 8 p.m. to midnight on the C & L stage. Earlier that day, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., Chuck Thiel will perform in the pavilion.
Thursday evening, from 8 p.m. to midnight on the C & L stage, will be country-rockers 32 Below. According to their website, the group has sold more than 20,000 CDs.
Other musical attractions Thursday include Lyndon Peterson from noon to 3 p.m. in the pavilion, and battle of the bands at 3 p.m. on the Ridgewater Stage.
Friday’s C & L stage headliner is Hairball, 8 p.m. to midnight, with a $5 cover charge. The Wendinger Band will perform earlier Friday, from noon to 4 p.m. in the pavilion.
Saturday’s music starts with Blurred Vision on the Ridgewater Stage from 3 to 6 p.m. On the C & L stage, Jacob Martin is from 6 to 8:30 p.m., and Killer Hayseeds is from 8:30 p.m. to midnight.
Sunday evening’s music is the White Sidewalls, from 6 to 9 p.m. on the C & L stage.
Pype will be performing during the Classic Ribfest judging at 2 p.m. Sunday.
“This is our second year of the Classic Ribfest,” Walters said. “Last year, there were a lot of people participating. It was really good.”
Classic Ribfest teams make their own recipes and win prizes. Cooking takes place throughout the morning.
Another tantalizing treat at the McLeod County Fair is the free sweet corn feed Wednesday at 6 p.m., sponsored by McLeod Alliance for Victims of Domestic Violence and McLeod County Agricultural Association.
“One thing new this year is that Pizza Ranch in Glencoe will be serving at the Country Diner, which is attached to the Agribition Building,” Walters said. “Each day of the fair, they’re going to have pizza and chicken.”
Another new event in 2011 is a classic car show 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, sponsored by NAPA Auto Parts of Hutchinson. The first 50 entries receive dash plaques. For more information, contact Bobby Paulson at email@example.com or (320) 582-1213.
Fairgoers also have the opportunity to donate sneakers, with collection sites for the Green Sneakers organization dispersed throughout the fairgrounds.
“That’s new as well,” Walters said. “It’s a really cool program.”
Green Sneakers accepts walking shoes in any condition, in order to provide affordable footwear for people in need around the world, raise funds for the organization, and help support jobs in third-world countries. Shoelaces should be tied together, to keep the set from getting separated.
Gold Star Amusements will once again provide rides and games. Discounted tickets of five rides for $10 are available at McLeod County banks and at the fair office (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) until the day the fair starts.
Popular Gold Star Amusement rides include the dragon wagon, rainbow rock, tilt-a-whirl, pharaoh’s fury, and zero gravity, to name a few.
General admission to the McLeod County Fair is $5 for adults, and free for children ages 12 and under.
The fair is located on Century Avenue, less than a mile west of Highway 15. For more information about the McLeod County Fair, call (320) 587-2499, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or click here.