By Jennifer Kotila
WRIGHT COUNTY, MN It’s that time of year again; the Wright County Fair will be in full swing mid-week, bringing with it all sorts of fun for folks of all ages.
Many people who come to the Wright County Fair, which this year takes place Wednesday through Sunday, Aug. 1-5, comment about how it’s like a “mini Minnesota State Fair.”
“How much better can you get than that for a county fair?” commented Wright County Fair Board Member Ron Denn.
The fair offers so many activities and events, it is difficult to highlight them all.
The fun begins Wednesday, with the general exhibit building opening at noon, and KRWC Night starting at 5 p.m., with rides for $1 on the midway.
There are several special days at the fair. Senior Citizens Day is Friday, Aug.. 3, with a lunch at 11:30 a.m. and a program at 1 p.m. at the free stage at the fairgrounds.
The 2012 Outstanding Senior Citizens will be honored and the oldest man and woman at the fair will be recognized, as well as Wright County’s Century Farms.
The first Military Day will be hosted at the fairgrounds Saturday, Aug. 4, and all military personnel and veterans will receive free admission and parking that day.
There will also be a program at 1 p.m. at the free stage with the posting of the colors, musical selections from the Mid-Minnesota Concert Band, and a number of speakers.
The Wright County Fair is known for its horse shows, and is second in the state for them, according to Denn, who is also the fair’s horse superintendent.
“The numbers are dramatically growing,” Denn said.
One can find a horse show to sit and watch at nearly any time throughout the five-day fair.
Opening ceremonies take place in the grandstand at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, featuring the Wright County Mounted Patrol, Wright County Honor Guard, the Wright County Fair Long-Eared Drill Team, and the 2012 Friend of the Fair winner.
Those who enjoy watching giant combines smash into each other should be sure to attend the final combine derby following opening ceremonies Wednesday evening at 7 p.m.
“It’s tougher to find combines to fix up, and it takes quite a bit to get some in running condition again,” said combine derby coordinator Stan VanderKooi.
In fact, there is an agreement with a group from South Dakota to bring combines specifically for the Armageddon heat that evening.
Between combine derby heats, local FFA members and alumni will participate in lawn mower soccer.
Hairball returns to the grandstand Thursday, with the Heart tribute band, Bad Animals, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
The grandstand fun continues with the auto demolition derbies, which always attract the biggest crowds at the fair.
This will be the 44th year of the derbies, which will take place Friday at 7 p.m., and Sunday at 5:30 p.m.
The truck and tractor show takes place in the grandstand Saturday at 2 p.m., and continues at 6 p.m. after a short break.
There are plenty of opportunities throughout the fair to enjoy the talent of local and regional musical artists.
In the entertainment tent, DJ Entertainment will be featured Wednesday and Thursday from 7 to 11 p.m. It will also provide entertainment Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m., when karaoke will be available, as well.
Kids will get to show off their singing abilities during kids’ karaoke in the entertainment tent Thursday from 1 to 4 p.m.
Fans of old-time country music will enjoy the talents of Mike Elsenpeter in the entertainment tent Friday from 1 to 5 p.m.
He will be followed by the variety-dance rock band, Stealin’ the Covers, from 8 p.m. to midnight.
Saturday is cowboy night in the entertainment tent, featuring the musical talents of Unleaded, playing rocking country and classic rock. Anyone wearing a cowboy hat receives $1 off their first beverage.
All local musical artists are invited to come jam out during the acoustic jam session hosted by Mike Fretheim and Travis Williams of Red Dot Garage. It will take place in the entertainment tent Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.
Finally, karaoke stars from local bars will showcase their talent in a karaoke contest Sunday from 5 to 9 p.m.
Musical talent at the free stage will take place Friday, featuring Wally Pikal at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., and the Wagon Wheelers from 4 to 8 p.m.
Other events and entertainment
A pie-eating contest will take place every day at the free stage at 5:30 p.m., with different groups scheduled to compete each day.
Wednesday, the Wright County Fair Board, Wright County commissioners, and Wright County employees will compete; Thursday will be the Fairest of the Fair ambassadors and candidates; Friday will be 4-H and FFA members; Saturday will be the general public; and Sunday will be the championship, with previous days’ winners competing against each other.
A talent contest, which sends the top talent from Wright County to the Minnesota State Fair’s talent contest, will take place Thursday at 6 p.m.
The carnival midway opens Wednesday at 5 p.m., and daily thereafter at 1 p.m. Unlimited ride armbands will be available for $20 Thursday, Friday, and Sunday.
A drawing for children’s bicycles will take place each day at 5 p.m., with armbands required on armband days.
An antique tractor pull takes place Thursday at 5 p.m. on Machinery Hill, where I.H. Collectors of Minnesota will be featured this year.
For youngsters who want to experience what it was like to go to school in “the old days,” the historic Welker School will be in session Friday from 9 a.m. to noon.
Those who enjoy some good farm competition will not be disappointed, with a tractor and skid steer contest taking place Friday at 9:30 a.m.; muttin bustin’ Saturday at 1 p.m.; and agrilympics Saturday at 2 p.m.
Lumberjack shows are scheduled throughout the fair, and the championships take place Saturday at 3:30 p.m., and Sunday at noon.
Those who want to purchase quality locally-grown livestock can do so at the 4-H auction, which takes place Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
Proud mamas and papas can enter their crawling babies and toddling toddlers in the diaper derby, which takes place Saturday at 3 p.m. near the old school.
Finally, the Fairest of the Fair coronation will take place Sunday at 3 p.m. at the free stage.