By Jennifer Kotila
WRIGHT COUNTY, MN People will be streaming into Howard Lake midweek to exhibit their work and have a family-friendly good time at the Wright County Fair, which promises to be bigger and better than ever.
Along with offering traditional activities, events, and exhibits, there will be a number of new, exciting things for people to see and do.
This year, the fair will be even more like a “mini Minnesota State Fair,” offering some of the same activities and entertainment that can be seen at the Great Minnesota Get-together.
For instance, the Twin Cities Fantasy Factory BMX Bicycle Stunt show, which is regularly at the state fair, will be showing off its stunts at the Wright County Fair Friday and Saturday, Aug. 2 and 3.
Benjamin Raye, an up-and-coming singer and songwriter from the Twin Cities, will be performing Saturday, Aug. 3 from 1 to 5 p.m. in the entertainment tent. He will also perform seven shows during the state fair this year.
Alpensterne, a band that performs traditional German folk songs and yodeling, will be performing Friday on the free stage. The band performs at numerous events and has performed at the state fair.
“How much better can you get than that for a county fair?” commented Wright County Fair Board Member Ron Denn.
In fact, there are so many activities and events at the Wright County Fair, it is difficult to highlight them all.
The fun begins Wednesday, with the general exhibit building opening at noon, KRWC Night starting at 5 p.m., and midway rides for $1.
Special days at the fair include:
• Senior Citizens Day Friday, Aug.2 lunch at 11:30 a.m. and program at 1 p.m. at the free stage at the fairgrounds. At the program, the 2012 Outstanding Senior Citizens will be honored, the oldest man and woman at the fair will be recognized, and Wright County’s Century Farms will also be recognized.
• Military Day, Saturday, Aug. 3 all military personnel and veterans will receive free admission to the fair and free parking, and a program will take place at 1 p.m. at the free stage.
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, July 31, featuring the Wright County Mounted Patrol, Wright County Honor Guard, the Wright County Fair Long-Eared Drill Team, and the 2013 Friend of the Fair winner.
After declaring last year as the last combine derby, it is back this year by popular demand along with a lawn mower derby. The combine and lawn mower derby will take place Wednesday evening following opening ceremonies.
Hairball returns to the grandstand Thursday, Aug. 1, with the classic rock cover band Forecasting Fame. Forecasting Fame features teen musicians who weren’t born when the songs they play were first released. Some of the band members were selected out of 10,000 auditions to tour nationally with the School of Rock All Stars. The show begins at 7:30 p.m.
The fair’s most well-attended event is Friday evening’s demolition derby which often draws a sold-out crowd. This is the 45th year of demolition derbies at the fair. A second demolition derby takes place Sunday, Aug. 4 at 5:30 p.m.
The truck and tractor pull takes place in the grandstand Saturday, Aug. 3 at 2 p.m., and continues at 5:30 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, a DJ will provide music Wednesday and Thursday from 8 p.m. to midnight.
Alpensterne will perform on the free stage at 10:30 and 2 p.m., followed by the Wagon Wheelers from 4 to 8 p.m.
Everett Smithson will perform Friday from 1 to 5 p.m. in the entertainment tent. Free harmonica lessons will be offered during a break in the show.
Friday evening, Captain May I will perform in the entertainment tent from 8 p.m. to midnight. Dan Dryden, a former member of Hairball, formed the band after resigning from Hairball in March 2012.
Benjamin Raye performs in the entertainment tent Saturday, Aug. 3 from 1 to 5 p.m. That evening is cowboy night, featuring the band Unleaded from 8 p.m. to midnight. Anyone wearing a cowboy hat will receive their first beverage free.
At 3 p.m. Saturday, a square dancing group will provide entertainment at the free stage.
Tim Krueger will perform in the entertainment tent Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m., and the Total Country Band will perform from 5 to 9 p.m.
Other events and entertainment
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.
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 llama show will take place Wednesday at 5 p.m. Llama owners and their animals dress in a themed costume to show off their talents.
David Ward will present “Paul Bunyan: Loggin’ Legends and Lore!” on the free stage Thursday, Aug. 1 at noon, 3 and 6 p.m., and at the Lumberjack show stage Friday at 11:30 a.m., 2:30, and 5:30 p.m. Lumberjack shows and championships also take place daily at the lumberjack show stage.
A classic car show will take place Thursday at 3 p.m. on the fairgrounds, and an antique tractor pull takes place at 5 p.m. at Machinery Hill. This year, John Deere tractor collections will be featured at Machinery Hill.
The talent contest, which sends the top talent to compete in the Minnesota State Fair talent contest, takes place at 6 p.m. on the Performance Arts Stage.
Youngsters who want to experience what it was like to go to school in “the old days” can attend the historic Welker School 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.; mutton bustin’ Saturday at 1 p.m.; and a kids pedal tractor pull Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
The Mud Spectacular will take place Saturday, Aug. 3 at 1 p.m. in the newly constructed mud bog pits on the west side of the fairgrounds.
On the farm stage in the goat barn will be a display with videos and photos of the past about farm wives at the fair, and a children’s learning area will give children a chance to milk Maggie the cow.
“Franny Farmer,” presented by Annette Fragale and “The Big Red Dog,” will take place on the Farm Stage Friday, Aug. 2 at 2, 5, and 6:30 p.m., and again Sunday, Aug. 4 at 1, 3, and 6 p.m. It is an interactive show that will have children singing, laughing, and learning good eating habits. The show will take place on the Farm Stage in the goat barn
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.
Finally, the Fairest of the Fair coronation will take place Sunday at 3 p.m. at the free stage.