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From bands to magicians to ventriloquists, they're all performing at Heritage Square

Kerry Solberg, left, of Bloomington dances with her daughter Maia, 2, along with Lane Goddard with her daughter Kallie, 3, on Friday to the music of the Twin Cities band the Brass Kings at the Kandiyohi County Fair. Solberg and Goddard are sisters. Their brother, Steve Kaul, is in the band. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

WILLMAR -- From the All-American Lumberjack Show to country and folk musical performances to magic shows and ventriloquist acts, the variety of fair entertainment has been drawing crowds of all sizes.

The Brass Kings, an acoustic folk band based out of Minneapolis, drew a small, yet lively crowd when they performed Thursday afternoon on Heritage Square Stage.

"This is exactly the kind of stuff we're looking for," said Katie Fernandez of Willmar, who sat down to enjoy the folk music with her 10-month-old daughter, Ileana.

They're great, said Gene Hippe of Willmar, who was running the Knights of Columbus Food Stand. "The sad part is that they're playing to empty seats right now."

Hippe accounted the small crowd to the time of day and day of week.

A jam-packed schedule of Kandiyohi County Fair events and entertainment began in earnest on Wednesday and the fair wraps up today at the fairgrounds in north Willmar.

The size of the crowd Friday afternoon didn't matter for sisters Kerry Solberg of Bloomington and Lane Goddard of Willmar, who came to watch their cousin Steve Kaul, the lead vocalist and guitarist of Brass Kings. Joining them was Goddard's neighbor, Leah Kreps of Willmar.

"She told me they were playing, so I came out," Kreps said.

The three ladies danced around in front of the stage with their young daughters.

Solberg said that they would dance as long as the kids lasted.

Connie Chappell of New London was a little more relaxed watching the performance. She sat in the back enjoying the music as she knitted.

"I'm just making some socks and listening to music," she said with a laugh. "I like the bluegrass bands like this."

Chappell works in Willmar and has come to the fair during her lunch breaks this week.

She said she can get some quick food and listen to some good music for a while.

Ventriloquist James Wedgwood attracted a slightly larger audience when he put on a comedic show late Friday afternoon, poking fun at the crowd and making everyone laugh.

"He's very good," said Stephanie Jasso of Willmar, who was called to the stage by Wedgwood to feed Bill, his parrot puppet.

"I was embarrassed, but my daughter was even more embarrassed," Jasso said with a laugh.

Wedgwood embarrassed more than a few people as he brought out his various puppets to interact with the crowd, but the laughs were worth it.

"It was entertaining. It was fun," said Mike Grahn of Willmar after the show.

Grahn said the entertainment has been great so far. "It's quality stuff," he said.

Wayne Larson of Litchfield echoed that.

"I come on Fridays to see the tractor pull and I always stop here (at the Heritage Square Stage)," Larson said. "They generally have good entertainment here, worth seeing."

Late afternoon and night shows have drawn the largest crowds with performances by Custom-Made Wednesday, The Blackburns and Green Lake Blue Grass Band on Thursday and Bluez Brotherz Band on Friday.

Today, fair-goers can enjoy more entertainment by the Baumann Brothers, a Christian band from southwest Minnesota, and Tasz, a rock cover band from Willmar. New talent will also perform during the talent show at 4 p.m. today on the Heritage Square Stage.