Watery set-up for the fair
Rain, rain, go away ... you could almost hear the chanting from the various work crews setting up for the Becker County Fair on Tuesday.
Steady rains throughout the day were no match for the fair crews, however, as they simply rolled up their pants legs and set to work despite the occasional downpour.
"We've got a lot of water now, but I think if it quits and we don't get any more, it will be drained off by 5 p.m. (today)," said Bob Sonnenberg, fair director, referring to the official fair kickoff time.
"We've got a couple inconveniences, but its not going to be a major deal," said John Purdy, while he directed his squad in setting up the midway.
"It's gonna slow us a little bit," Purdy said, but was quick to add that his personnel is "used to adversity."
Rain before the Fair was no big problem, but heavy rain during it could spell catastrophe.
"The important thing is that it doesn't rain throughout the rest of the week," Purdy said.
"It'll be a huge deal if it's raining when we're open," he added.
Standing water, too, could pose an issue. After all, no one wants to have to swim to shore after having his brains scrambled on the Tilt-A-Whirl.
"We want to get the water out of here before the Fair opens Wednesday afternoon," Purdy said.
In spite of problems with the weather, and the potential for more such problems, Purdy remains optimistic.
"We did pretty good with the rain last year, we're hoping to do better without the rain," he said.
In fact, Sonnenberg said, this year's midway rides look much improved from last year, when a last-minute switch in carnival companies meant a smaller-than-normal setup on the midway.
"The rides look to be in really good shape," Sonnenberg said. "It's a much improved carnival."
The commercial booth setup also looks to be bigger and better than ever, with the Freeman Arena packed with exhibitors, and more booths than ever being set up outside.
The entertainment also promises to be bigger and better than ever, with the Big Tent lineup of free performers including newcomers like Texas Terry's Wild West Show (today), magician Jerry Frasier (Friday), the Heebeejeebies and Greg Hagar (Saturday) slated to take the stage along with familiar favorites like Danny Holt (tonight), the Callens Family (Thursday) and the Melody Boys (Saturday night).
The grandstand lineup kicks off with tonight's Miss/Junior Miss Becker County Fair Pageant. Thursday night, Fargo rockers Tripwire will perform while the crowds are invited out onto the field to dance the night away.
Friday and Saturday night's entertainment will consist of the ever-popular demolition derby.
The food selection also promises greater variety than ever before, Sonnenberg said, noting that the fair board opted to sign an exclusive contract with a single vendor, Doug Hanson of Fergus Falls, who has brought along a dozen different food trailers offering a larger selection than in years past.
"We're really pleased with what he's (Hanson) brought with him," Sonnenberg said.
Open class entries for canned goods, vegetables, artwork and other commercial categories are also looking good this year, after a record-breaking year for participants in 2009.
"Last year we broke a record ... this year, we expect it to be even bigger," Sonnenberg said.
The number of 4-H and FFA livestock entries is also up considerably this year, he added.
"We've got a lot more (entries) in every class," Sonnenberg said. "Our horse barn is full -- it's shaping up to be a good one."
Detroit Lakes Newspapers summer intern Nathan Kitzmann contributed information for this story.