WILLMAR -- There's no experience quite like the county fair: the smell of barn animals, the folksy sounds of country music and the sight of children eating anything - and everything - that comes deep-fried and on a stick.
Beginning tomorrow, hundreds of entries ranging from baked goods to county livestock will be judged before the Kandiyohi County Fair officially opens its gates Wednesday afternoon.
New events and exhibits taking place at the fair this year include mechanical bull riding on Wednesday and Thursday; an All-American cake bakeoff entry exhibit; a token hunt by the West Central Tribune; and a putting contest with the chance to win $5,000.
Also new this year will be a spray painting artist featured every day at the Grandstand.
"It's just unbelievable how he creates this picture with a spray can," said Cheryl Johnson, secretary of the Kandiyohi County Fair Board. "It's so much fun to watch, and you can buy his art, too."
A donut contest, where demolition cars compete to see who can spin their car in circles the fastest, will take place before the demolition derbies on Thursday and Saturday evenings. The winner receives a cash prize and -- appropriately -- an edible trophy made of actual donuts, donated by Cub Foods in Willmar.
The fair will also host new entertainment this year. On Thursday, bluegrass music will be played all day long, including a concert by Monroe Crossing, a 2007 inductee to the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame.
Also for the first time, a ventriloquist will perform at the fair. James Wedgewood and his "dummies" take the Heritage Square Stage Friday at 3 and 5 p.m.
In addition to ventriloquists, spray painting and donut trophies, plenty of old fair favorites will be back this year, like the sweet corn feed, the free bull riding show on Wednesday evening, the demolition derby and the tractor pull.
Johnson said this mix of old and new is what keeps people coming back to the fair, now in its 110th year.
"For a lot of people, it's just tradition," she said. "We really try to bring in a lot of entertainment to reach all age groups. The fair is just something that becomes a tradition for a lot of families."