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It's a wrap on 2018 Kandiyohi County Fair

Erica Dischino / Tribune Taya Schwitters, 6, front, and Ella Schwitters, 10, feed a tiger during the Bengal tiger show Saturday at the Kandiyohi County Fair in Willmar. 1 / 9
Erica Dischino / Tribune Brian Hollenbeck and other band members of the 70’s Magic Sunshine Band dressed in typical 70’s clothes during the band’s performance at the Kandiyohi County Fair Friday evening in Willmar. 2 / 9
Erica Dischino / TribuneKevin Lenhart plays the drums during the 70’s Magic Sunshine Band performance at the Kandiyohi County Fair Friday evening in Willmar. 3 / 9
Erica Dischino / Tribune Dean Woytcke, left, and Karla Caruso dance during the 70's Magic Sunshine Band performance at the Kandiyohi County Fair Friday evening in Willmar4 / 9
Erica Dischino / Tribune Brian Hollenbeck plays the guitar during the 70's Magic Sunshine Band performance at the Kandiyohi County Fair Friday evening in Willmar. 5 / 9
Erica Dischino / Tribune The crowd watches tigers perform during the Bengal tiger show Saturday at the Kandiyohi County Fair in Willmar. 6 / 9
Erica Dischino / Tribune A tiger performs during the Bengal tiger show Saturday at the Kandiyohi County Fair in Willmar. 7 / 9
Erica Dischino / TribuneThe 70’s Magic Sunshine Band performs at the Kandiyohi County Fair Friday evening in Willmar.8 / 9
Erica Dischino / Tribune Scarecrows line the fence at the Master Gardener’s exhibit at the Kandiyohi County Fair in Willmar. Fair-goers were able to vote for their favorite. 9 / 9

WILLMAR — Among the cows, goats, rabbits and poultry out at the 2018 Kandiyohi County Fair was an unlikely animal, one found more often in the forests of India than on the shores of a Minnesota lake.

Bengal tigers.

Five of these big cats stayed in an enclosure on the northwest end of the fairgrounds throughout the entirety of the Kandiyohi County Fair, participating in three free shows daily.

"The Bengal Tiger Encounter" was brought to the fair by the Frisco family, who have been training tigers for educational show for as long as Felicia Frisco can remember.

"I've been doing it my whole life, so their whole life. My oldest one's 20, and I'm 25, so I've been with her forever," said Frisco.

The five tigers were all born in captivity and raised by the Friscos, spending their time in the off season in either Peoria, Illinois, or Tampa, Florida, depending on the weather.

The most rewarding parts of her job were split "between raising awareness for their plight or just bonding with them," said Frisco. Motioning to her one white Bengal tiger, she said, "I was there for his birth and his mother's birth, so they're all really close to my heart."

The intent behind the traveling tiger troupe is to educate the public on the unfortunate circumstances of Bengal tigers. On display during all fair hours, these tigers teach people about the loss of habitat and the killing of tigers for profit in India and Asia.

"There's less than 3,500 tigers in the wild today," said Frisco.

The Frisco family, feline members included, have one more stop on their road tour before they head back to Illinois to rest up. These tigers only "work" for about 15 weeks out of the year, giving them ample time at their homes in the Midwest and the South.

Along with the tigers, the Kandiyohi County Fair had plenty of special events and features to draw in visitors from around the county.

On Wednesday, the brand-new bull riding show was a big draw, pulling crowds out to the grandstand for a "dirt-kickin', wicked good" time with the Great Frontier Bull Riding Company. The Heritage Square Stage programming, centered around the fair's Veterans Day theme, paid tribute to local veterans for their service to the country, gifting small pins and certificates to veterans who served from 1955-75.

Thursday was Senior Citizens Day at the fairgrounds, honoring the work senior citizens have put into the surrounding community. Two outstanding senior citizen of the year awards were given, one to Wilma Boonstra of Raymond and the other to Ronald Ulferts, also of Raymond. That evening showcased a KRA race in the grandstand, another big event to cap off a successful day at the fair.

Friday brought a cow milking contest, an FFA children's barnyard, and a "Music in Motion" horse show out at the 4-H arena. The semi, pickup and tractor pull were that night's grandstand feature, bringing a different kind of excitement to the racetrack.

Saturday was the last day of the county fair, wrapping up the festivities. With a jam-packed day of activities, the fairgrounds was busy with attendees. The Baker's Best Contest featured bundt cakes, drawing people to the Heritage Square Stage. And since it was Kids Day at the fair, children could enjoy free milk and cookies and enter in prize drawings. Tripwire, a band of four friends who use more than 10 instruments to play through five decades of music, played at an evening show, which included dancing and tricks across the stage to wow visitors.

With four full days of fair fun, the 2018 Kandiyohi County Fair was one to remember.