For bevy of 4-H'ers, now is the time to shine
WILLMAR -- "You don't have to be the best, you simply have to try your best." Such seems to be the friendly 4-H philosophy of this year's Kandiyohi County Fair, as Becky Carlson of Atwater reminded her daughter, Amber, before the teen led 5 1/2 -...
WILLMAR -- "You don't have to be the best, you simply have to try your best."
Such seems to be the friendly 4-H philosophy of this year's Kandiyohi County Fair, as Becky Carlson of Atwater reminded her daughter, Amber, before the teen led 5½-month-old Irish setter Kip to face the judges Tuesday afternoon.
This year marks Kip's first appearance at the Kandi Fair, but not Amber's. The 13-year-old has been actively participating in 4-H for the past seven years, and received blue ribbons across the board at last year's local fair.
She also was named Grand Champion for her 2007 dog-related project and recently earned the right to compete at the state competition on Sept. 20 and 21.
This year, Amber is just looking forward to giving it her all and seeing what happens.
"I'm excited to see how Kip does, and I'm doing the horse show for the first time, too," she said. "So we'll see how I do!"
From citizenship to safety, from vegetable gardens to global connections, the Kandi Fair becomes a home away from home for many 4-H'ers year after year.
Sixteen-year-old Lisa Ohden of Raymond has been active in 4-H for half her life, she said, participating in everything from photography and performing arts to fine arts and crafts.
The prize piece she's put up for competition this year is a candid photograph of her horse nuzzling a nest of robin's eggs.
But for Ohden, the fun of 4-H comes with the fellowship.
"My favorite part of all this is hanging around my 'horse friends,'" she said. "I don't see them often outside of 4-H. It's good times."
Ohden's mom, Gina, did not participate in 4-H as a child, but said she's been very impressed with what the organization has done for her children.
"4-H has really expanded my kids' confidence and communication skills. It's made a big difference in all our lives."
Outside of the barns, tents rose Tuesday as the MCM midway began to materialize in the middle of the fairgrounds. Wrist band rides start this evening on the midway.
The Great Frontier Bull Riding Co. returns to Kandiyohi County for the sixth time this year, and will take over the 4-H Arena at 7:30 p.m. today. Along with the usual rodeo action, the two-hour act will also feature mutton bustin', watermelon crawls, clown skits and a boot scramble for the kids.
"Bull riding is always a popular show; that's free with gate admission (tonight)," said fair secretary Cheryl Johnson.
Back by popular demand, Sherwin Linton will return to the Kandiyohi County Fair to treat audiences to live country music in the style of Johnny Cash, Johnson said.
Touted as "Mid America's No. 1 Entertainer," the South Dakota native will perform free shows today on the Heritage Square Stage.
"The All American Lumberjack Show" will show off their tree-topping tricks and talents each day of the fair with chainsaw carving and more on the west end of the fairgrounds, near Centennial Hall.
"They do things like race across the pool on logs, and then on Saturday afternoon they let kids try it out," said Lisa Bredeson, one of the workers in the fair office. "It's fun," and free as well.
Rollie Boll, fair president, said "it all came together quite nicely" as countless volunteers put the finishing touches on the fairgrounds.
The Kandiyohi County Fair usually draws about 20,000 each summer, and the board expects to see those same types of numbers in its 108th year.
The fair officially opens for business today at 2 p.m. and will continue through Saturday evening with various "family fun" functions.
The fairgrounds are located off Seventh Street Northwest in Willmar. For more information, visit www.kandifair.com or call the fair office at 320-235-0886.