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County fair animal registration goes online

Technology is advancing — even at the Becker County Fair.

New this year, through a statewide initiative, those registering their animals for show go online rather than filling out physical paperwork.

And while that change may have showed some initially misleading numbers of animals at the fair, Board President Bob Sonnenberg said the numbers are right on track as in the past years.

“The barns will be full but not overstuffed,” he said.

Becker County Extension Office Manager Linda Perrine agreed.

“When I look at the numbers, yes, they look bigger, but it’s the ‘good intentions’ list is what I call it,” she said.

On the initial sign-up, she said participants will list extra animals so that in case something happens to one animal, they have a back-up to show.

Another the reason the initial numbers can look more sizable than they actually are is the online animal identification forms are filled out individually, whereas in the past, kids brought in one sheet with all their animals listed on it.

The process for kids to register their 4-H animals to show at the fair begins at the start of the year. Participants register any possible animals they want to show, and then when the fair gets close, by the end of June they re-register their animals, this time getting a much better feel for which animals they will be showing.

The Becker County Fair is scheduled for July 30-Aug. 2.

“All the pre-fair registration, or information, sheets from the kids are due the end of this month, and that’s how we really know what our numbers will be,” Perrine said.

Helping to fill those barns, the amount of entries each kid is allowed has changed in the last few years as well.

“They can bring two exhibits in everything, canned goods, vegetables, clothing… 4-H and open class, you can bring two of each,” Sonnenberg explained.

That rule changed about three years ago, he said, allowing kids more opportunities to show off their animals, works of art, sewing and other talents.

“It gives the kids a better chance and keeps everything full,” he said with a laugh.

“We’re just trying to get everything sorted out, making sure all the correct information is there,” Perrine said. “This is a new process for us. We’ve had a lot of training this past winter.”

Every county in the state has made the change to online registration.

In preparation of a full fair, Perrine said they’re getting the behind-the-scenes matters lined up now.

“Right now we’re just doing our normal of getting the judges lined up, getting the clubs assigned to the different food stands and work shifts, getting the clubs that are going to come in and clean the building,” she said. “The same with the fair board. They’ve done just awesome work with all the stuff they have to line up — get all the vendors there and the entertainment under the tent and all the stuff at the grandstand events. It’s amazing.”

And while the barns and buildings will be full of exhibits and animals, Sonnenberg said there’s the one variable that no one can be certain of until that week — Mother Nature. He said the fair is slated to be another success, “if the weather agrees with us.”

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.