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Area 4-H winners head off for State Fair competition

Mitch Johnson, right, gets a helping hand Wednesday from Jay Lindblad has they load Johnsons’ turkeys onto a semi at the Kandiyohi County Fairgrounds for a trip to the State Fair in St. Paul. Fifty local youth and their animals will spend five days at the Minnesota State Fair, which begins today. Tribune photo by Carolyn Lange

WILLMAR — Area 4-H members packed up their animals and exhibits Wednesday morning and left on the trips they won to the Minnesota State Fair.

The State Fair trips are awarded to members who win top honors at county fairs. The trips allow 4-H members to compete with others from around the state.

The fair opens today and will run through Labor Day. During that time, the fair usually welcomes nearly 1.8 million visitors to its 320-acre grounds.

The overall fair attendance record of 1,790,497 was set in 2009. The single day attendance record of 234,384 was set on a Saturday in 2010.

According to the fair's fact sheet, the fair offers more than 450 foods at its 300 food booths, including more than 60 foods on a stick.

In addition to its nightly series of concerts in the grandstand, the fair offers free entertainment at many other sites. Other entertainment includes the finals of the Minnesota State Fair Amateur Talent Contest.

A parade in the parade grounds is held at 2 p.m. every day and features high school marching bands from across the state.

The Mighty Midway has 50 games of skill and 30 carnival rides, and the Kidway offers more than 30 rides for young children, the fact sheet says.

Ye Old Mill is the oldest ride on the fairgrounds, operated by the same family since 1915. It has been the site of many first kisses and proposals over the years.

Another fair standard is the butter sculptures. Princess Kay of the Milky Way and her court have their likenesses carved into 90-pound blocks of butter each day during the fair.

Competitions for 4-H members and others are another attraction. In addition to livestock, the fair offers a juried fine arts show and displays of the state's finest needlework, handcrafts, baking and canning.

Honey, flowers, giant vegetables, crop and seed art, Christmas trees, beer and fruit are showcased in the Agriculture Horticulture Building.

According to the fact sheet, the fair was first held in 1859 and has operated at its current location midway between Minneapolis and St. Paul since 1885.

The State Fair has been recycling since the mid-1980s. Currently, the fair recycles paper, glass, metal, fluorescent bulbs, vehicle and appliance batteries, antifreeze, beverage containers, automotive oil, tires, grease, meat scraps, manure, construction material, plastic shrink wrap, wood waste, paint, food waste, cardboard, concrete, oil filters, plastic bottles, laser toner cartridges and more. During last year's fair 65 tons of food waste and 21 tons of glass, plastic and aluminum were collected and recycled.

For more information about the Minnesota State Fair, go to

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

(320) 214-4340