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(Becker County) Fair days ahead

The fair days of summer are long upon us. Boys and girls of every age are preparing to gather for three days of fun, amusement and community bonding that can only be the 119th Annual Becker County Fair.

This year's fair is July 28-31.

The fair has a strange, very special, atmosphere to it. Something about the smells of sweat and deep-fried food, the sound of people screaming their hearts out on the creaky rides, and the silhouette of the Ferris wheel as the sun falls behind it makes for an atmosphere that only the fair can provide.

To change the fair up too much, from year to year, would tamper with the uniqueness that makes the county fair what it is. However, there will be a few new features this year that will definitely add to the Becker County Fair experience, without changing anything you love about it.

For the first time ever, there will be a live band performing on Thursday night under the Big Tent. "We've never tried it before," Fair Manager Bob Sonnenberg said. "They're a pretty popular band out of Fargo."

Also, crowd favorites The Callen Family will return.

"They're always fabulous," Sonnenberg said.

So will T. Texas Terry on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m., bringing with him his Wild West Show. All Big Tent events are free of charge.

Notwithstanding the altogether new features, expect expansion to nearly all of the returning attractions at the Becker County Fair. This means more rides, more entertainment options and yes, even more types of food to drown in a deep fryer. "Our food booths are going to be much bigger," Sonnenberg said.

The open-class exhibits -- such as 4H livestock showings -- will also return in full force.

"Last year we had a record year on that and that's the way it looks again this year," Sonnenberg said.

Animal demonstration activities include the 4-H and FFA Poultry Show at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, the 4-H and FFA Swine Show at 1 p.m. on Thursday, and the 4-H Horse show at 8 a.m. on Friday. There will be judging of live animal exhibits every day.

The Demolition Derby, too, will be returning in all its bare glory, here to feed the primal human instinct to watch machinery being destroyed. In fact, it will headline the Grandstand on Friday and Saturday; with the stock car and compact pickup/minivan Derby; and the pickup/4-cylinder derby, respectively.

Finally, the Miss and Junior Miss Becker County Fair Pageant will be back, taking over the Grandstand at 6:30 on opening night, Wednesday.

The pageant is a longstanding tradition in the Becker County Fair, and expect the same grace, beauty and majesty from it that you always have, albeit with a fresh new crop of contestants.

So as you amble down Midway, remember that you are not only having yourself a great time, but honoring an age old tradition of fun and camaraderie that, in a sense, defines our community and holds it together.

Times change, things pass, but every year around the end of July the Becker County Fair returns to remind us of childhood summers and life's simple pleasures and bygone days of innocence. And the Fair never has let us down, has it? Not in 119 years.