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Growers invited to annual 'big beet' contest at State Fair

ST. PAUL -- Once again the Minnesota State Fair is inviting sugar beet growers to compete in the annual Biggest Beet competition. And because of the early start and extremely rapid growing season the biggest beet this year could shatter the previous record of an 18.4-pound sugar beet.

Vern Prokosch, a former State Fair Board Commissioner and a now-retired Bird Island area farmer, initiated this contest with the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative 14 years ago. He grew beets for nearly 50 years so has a keen eye for the crop and confidently predicts bigger beets at the 2012 contest.

"Especially if the crop gets some moisture the next couple of weeks," Prokosch noted.

Yes, there is prize money in this competition and a purple ribbon for the champion beet, but this contest is all about bragging rights, says Prokosch. He will personally deliver the beets on Aug. 22 to the Horticulture Building.

He asks that growers bring their contest sugar beet with a 6-inch top still intact to his house immediately west of Bird Island by Aug. 21. The "Smiling Barn" on Highway 212 is the Prokosch residence.

Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative also has an educational display about the sugar beet industry at the same State Fair booth featuring the sugar beets.