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Becker County Fair

Nothing brings together a community like the fair, and Becker County is hardly an exception.

This July 27-30, Detroit Lakes will host its annual Becker County Fair in the fairgrounds near the beach.

"I always get excited about this time of year," said Bob Sonnenberg, the Fair manager. "It's a terrific community get together.

This year's Fair will feature an even greater variety of food and fun than previous years due to the vigilant efforts of the Board of Directors.

"We try to make a fun time for everybody," Sonnenberg said.

The Becker County Fair will kick off on Wednesday, July 27, with multiple performances by entertainer Laura Ernst at 2, 4 and 6 p.m.

Ernst will perform a unique blend of "kinetic entertainment," to use her term. She opens her show in a "human-sized hamster ball," and juggles, hula-hoops and stunts her way through an unforgettable performance.

"She's supposed to be very entertaining," Sonnenberg said.

Her performance is more than entertaining, though. For the Becker County Fair, it is somewhat groundbreaking.

"We've never had a female perform under the tent before," Sonnenberg noted. "It's something new for us, for sure."

On Thursday, the Greg Hager band will entertain at 2, 5, and 7:30 p.m.

Thursday the 28th, being "Senior Day" at the fair, this act was chosen with that demographic in mind.

"The seniors always want something different, and we figured he'd fit the bill," said Sonnenberg.

Also on Thursday, Gary Tyson will bring his mixture of magic and comedy to the fairgrounds in the form of two different shows.

Tyson will give his first performance at 4 p.m. under the tent, in a show geared towards the younger crowd.

At 7:30 p.m., Tyson will cap off the night with an exclusive show in the Grandstand.

"In the Grandstand, Gary puts on a terrific show as far as hypnosis and magic and stuff," Sonnenberg remarked.

While the first show is free, the Grandstand performance requires the $2 Fair Button, available at many local businesses.

Friday, July 29, will see Gary Wick take the stage with his show "Gary Wick and Friends."

"He's very good," Sonnenberg said.

"We had him several years ago and we've had many requests to get him back," Sonnenberg added, "but he's never been available."

Perhaps the most entertaining event at this year's Fair, however, will not be in the official lineup at all.

"Our county administrator is going to challenge our city administrator to a cow-chip throwing contest," Sonnenberg said with a laugh.

"That should be terrific."

If last year's Fair is any indication, the 4-H and FFA barns will continue to host highly successful -- and highly competitive -- agricultural and artistic contests.

"Last year we broke all records in our exhibit building because we had so many entries," Sonnenberg noted. "We're supposed to have even more livestock this year."

Midway will remain mostly the same as recent years, but with the expansion of three new rides.

Additionally, there will be extra benches and other seating, so people waiting in line are less likely to have to stand.

"It gets better every year," Sonnenberg said of Midway, the cornerstone of the Fair experience.

However, Sonnenberg made clear that though the entertainment and the barns and Midway may improve with each passing year, it is the people that make the Fair the beloved summer tradition that it is.

"It's amazing how nice the people that come to the Fair are," Sonnenberg said.

"It's always the people themselves that make the Fair."

And it is the people that make it so hard for Bob Sonnenberg to contemplate an end to his 32-year run as Fair Manager.

According Sonnenberg, seeing hundreds of people enjoy themselves for three days in July makes the months of intense preparation leading up to it worthwhile.

"It's hard to walk away from the smiles on kids when they get their ribbons," Sonnenberg said. "It is a pleasure."

For more information, visit the Fair online at or contact Sonnenberg at (218) 847-8407. -- Nathan Kitzmann