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Veterans honored at the county fair: Opening day offers assortment of activities

Serena Martin, right, introduced Ashton Martin to Destiny the kid at the Future Farmers of America Barnyard on Wednesday. The Barnyard and young animals will be available to visit again today. Tribune photo by Kyle Rozendaal

WILLMAR — At 11 a.m. Wednesday, the Kandiyohi County Fair officially opened with style as Dennie Kline, a United States Army veteran, raised the American flag to the tune of “Stars and Stripes Forever” played by the Prairie Winds Concert Band.

The Kandiyohi County Fair designed Wednesday’s program to honor United States military veterans from all branches. All veterans were given free admission, there were free concerts, a free picnic lunch was served at noon and letters of thanks were read to the veterans after lunch.

“I came, parked my car and before I even was out there was someone there with a golf cart to drive me up here,” said Jerry Halvorson, an Army Korean War veteran who needs the assistance of a cane to walk around. “It’s truly a full-service day where they take care of us.”

This year nearly 400 veterans from Kandiyohi County came to the fair on Wednesday to be honored, according to Trisha Appeldorn, the Kandiyohi County Veterans Service Officer.

“We joke and say that you’re lucky to be a veteran in Minnesota, but you’re luckier to be a veteran in Kandiyohi County,” said Appeldorn on Wednesday. “We really try to take care of our veterans in Kandiyohi County. Things like this are times for veterans to connect and spouses of veterans to connect; in turn, it creates this small and tight-knit community of support which everyone appreciates.”

4-H’ers, FFA members and any open submissions had a full day on Wednesday as well as the 4-H dog agility course took place in the morning and rabbit, poultry, and sheep judging took place in the afternoon.

The FFA barnyard saw lots of traffic as people of all ages came through for the shade and to hold the baby animals. Even the emergency medical services team came by to hold Destiny,the baby goat who will likely be the star of the Barnyard this week.

Many who have been to the fair before know about the cash drawing at the end of each night. However, this year there is a slight twist to the contest. Each day there will only be one name drawn for the $1,000 daily prize. If the winner is not present to claim the prize, the $1,000 from that night rolls over into Saturday’s drawing and on Saturday the names will be drawn until a winner of the final jackpot is decided.

Today is Senior Citizens Day at the fair which includes a free program designed for senior citizens on the Heritage Square stage at 2 p.m. and free coffee for senior citizens throughout the day.

Other things to look forward to today are the Open Mic Show at 10 a.m., the Draft Horse and Antique Tractor Parade at 3 p.m. the Milking Contest at 5 p.m., the Talent Contest at 6 p.m. and Lawn-Mower Racing at 7 p.m. on the KRA speedway racetrack. There is also a free sweet corn feed from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Old Log Cabin for anyone who wants a free ear of corn.