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Becker County Fair on the upswing

Midway rides and games are always a fun part of the fair that thousands of people come to enjoy. Deals on arm bracelets can be had on Wednesday from 5 p.m. to close (bring two food pantry items; get armbands for $15 each) and Friday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. (bring three food pantry items and get 3 arm bands for $40.) DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham

Ahh, the smell of fried food, cotton candy, mini-donuts, snowcones, the sound of children squealing with excitement as the carnival rides zip around — county fairs have a unique feel that can bring a smile to just about anybody’s face.

The 2014 Becker County Fair promises to do just that.

The four-day event begins Wednesday, July 30, and goes through Saturday, Aug. 2.

Set at the Becker County Fairgrounds at the junction of Rossman Avenue and West Lake Drive, the historical county fair is in its 121st year in Detroit Lakes.

And unlike some county fairs that have had the misfortune of decline, the Becker County Fair is showing signs of significant growth.

“We have more commercial booths than we’ve ever had, our livestock is the most we’ve ever had and our exhibits building has been re-done with new showcases,” said Bob Sonnenberg, Becker County Fair Board president. “The last three years we’ve been up on everything, and we hope we’re up again this year.”

Sonnenberg says in some cases, the animal exhibits have doubled. “It’s a great feeling to get that kind of participation, and for the past four or five years we’ve had the same guy doing the carnival,” said Sonnenberg of Amusement Attractions. “He’s grown every year, too, and he’s got clean rides and always tries his best to work with everybody.”

The fair is once again working with the Becker County Food Pantry with its midway deals to benefit the pantry.

Wednesday ride-goers can get an armband to ride unlimited rides from 5 p.m. to close for $15 with two food pantry items.

Friday from 1 to 5 p.m., if people bring in three food pantry items, they can get three armbands for $40.

Regular price is $40 for one.

“I think a couple of years ago we had over a ton of donated food,” said Sonnenberg.

The fair, which is sponsored by the Becker County Agricultural Society, will also have a big showing of 4-H, FFA and Open Class exhibits and events including the ever popular pigs, cows, goats, horses, rabbits, llamas, alpacas and more.

The seemingly endless rows of judged exhibits make for a good place for fair-goers to hang out if the weather happens to turn wet.

Under the big tent is another place.

Entertainment acts – both new and old favorites — will be rotating shows beginning with magician, comedian and juggler, Rick Colen, who is new to this fair.

Also new this year is DC & Hawk, musical entertainment that Sonnenberg says the older folks might enjoy.

“It’s kind of that old-time music that a lot of seniors like,” he said, adding that musician and comedian Jerry Frasier will be back again this year as well.

“We always get a lot of requests for him,” said Sonnenberg.

Shows and kids games also being held there are free and open to the public.

There will, however, be a charge for the demo derby that always brings in the crowds.

The derby is being held at 7 p.m. both Friday and Saturday. Adults are $8; kids 12 and under are $5.

As if participants for that aren’t already literally revved up, there will be trophies and prize money awarded to winners in each class.

Also up for grabs is the annual Becker County Fair crown that will be awarded to the lucky young lady who takes home the title. The Miss Becker County Fair pageant will be held Thursday at 7 p.m.

Back again for the sixth year will also be the tractor parade to the fair, which is being held Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The parade will leave Adkin’s equipment north on Richwood Road into Detroit Lakes.

Sonnenberg says although it’s tough to know exactly how many people come through the gates of the fair every year, he estimates that it is somewhere around 30,000 over the four-day event.

“People make the fair, and we hope they really enjoy it,” said Sonnenberg. “And if the good boy upstairs cooperates with the weather it should be a great fair.”

For a breakdown of events, times and prices, log on to