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Kandiyohi County Fair begins in Willmar, Minn.

Mark Jaeger, left, a 4-H poultry judge, converses Wednesday with Isaac Lindquist about the chicken Lindquist raised. Linquist was participating in the poultry competition during the first day of the Kandiyohi County Fair in north Willmar. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

WILLMAR -- A slow start isn't always bad.

With a bit of rainy weather on opening day, the Kandiyohi County Fair had a slow start, which allowed fair-goers to take everything in at their own pace.

Early fair-goers made their way to the 4-H arena where obedient dogs and anxious owners waited to compete in the dog agility competitions.

Young owners led their dogs through courses of jumps, ramps, tunnels and other obstacles competing for the best time with the least amount of mistakes.

It was one of the early events on the first official day of the fair Wednesday.

The event continues today through Saturday at the county fairgrounds in north Willmar.

Shannon Salisbury, an 18-year-old 4-H veteran, competed Wednesday in the dog agility and jumpers competitions with her Boxer, Isabel.

Isabel, who is completely deaf, struggled with the tunnel, but made it through the rest of the course with no problem.

They can't see in the tunnels, Salisbury said. With her being deaf, she needs to see.

Salisbury must lead Isabel through the course using only hand signals.

"At first, it was a struggle," she said.

The first time they competed, Isabel got loose and the crowd yelled at Salisbury because she wasn't calling her.

My trainer actually had to go out and tell them that she's deaf, Salisbury said.

"The most challenging part is to have patience," she said. "But, it's pretty easy and it's just fun. You meet a lot of people."

Along with watching the dog agility competitions, fair-goers also visited the poultry barn, where judging was taking place.

Sue Swanson, superintendent of the rabbit barn, said they were thankful for the cool weather because it is better for the animals.

"It's just a good time for the kids to show their animals," she said. "They're excited. They've all done a good job, so I want them to be able to show the animals and all the hard work they've done."

While some youth showed their animals, others came to see the animals.

A group of 70 youth from the Cardinal Place received an agriculture lesson and barn tours. They also participated in a scavenger hunt that led them around the fairgrounds and met the dairy princesses.

"The goal is just to get them out here to the fair, so they can see and pet the animals," said Krista Lautenschlager, agricultural 4-H program coordinator, who planned the morning of activities as part of 4-H on Wheels.

"It's one way for the kids to learn about agriculture," said Ashley Thorpe, a 4-H'er who volunteered to help.

Lautenschlager had four 4-H'ers help with the morning activities, so they could talk to the kids about their animals and their projects.

"The kids really enjoy coming out here," she said.

As people slowly trickled into the fairgrounds throughout the afternoon, rides started running and music filled the air as performers took the stage.

"So far, we've enjoyed the music," said Carolyn Dykema, who works in The Little Red School House. "First we work, then we enjoy."

Sandy Trooien of Willmar said she also enjoyed the music. Trooien brought her two grandchildren Trinity, 9, and Calvin, 7, to the fair.

"I do enjoy coming with the grandchildren because I think they have a lot of fun with me," she said with a laugh as she watched the kids on the Tilt-A-Whirl. "They also love the FFA petting zoo. They spend a lot of time with the animals."

Trooien said she was happy there was a slow start for the fair because they didn't have to wait in line for the rides.

Rollie Boll, a director of the fair, explained that the slow start was due to last year's schedule change for the first day of the fair.

"A few sprinkles here and there probably kept a few from coming in, but I think it's just that people have to get used to the fair being open all day," he said.

Organizers expect the fair to be in full swing today for a day of family music, Senior Citizen Day and a night of go-kart races.