Editor's Note: This story is from the Detroit Lakes Tribune's special insert about the fair, published with the Wednesday, July 28 Tribune. Click HERE to read the insert for more great stories and information about the fair.
The Becker County Fair starts today, Wednesday, July 28, in Detroit Lakes and will run through this Saturday, July 31. Organizers say it’ll be better than ever after a year lost to the pandemic, with everybody's favorite events, exhibits, rides and more back in full swing this summer.
“Everyone is looking forward to this year’s fair,” says Keith Sonnenberg, Fair Board President. “I think the kids are especially excited after not having this gathering last year. They have waited a long time to go on rides, enjoy all the food at the fair, and also show off their animals. It’s going to be a very special Becker County Fair this year and we are looking forward to bringing this tradition back to our community.”
Fairgoers can expect to find all the familiar sites and sounds of the festival that they’ve come to know and love over the years: The wild rides, games, concessions and treats galore, animals, livestock shows, the Tractor Pull, Demolition Derby, 4-H activities and exhibits, Big Tent entertainment, a volleyball tournament, and so much more.
What makes the fair so special? It has been a community standby for 128 years, and each year, new and improved experiences are created for attendees. Modern-day fairs both honor the past and showcase the present.
One of the oldest traditions of the fair is the involvement of 4-H, an organization founded nationally in the late 1800s that later spread across Minnesota. It was then referred to as “The Tomato Club” or “The Corn Growing Club.”
4-H helps kids across the country through learning opportunities in ag, science, home economics, the arts, and community involvement, to name a few, and is a staple of the Becker County Fair environment.
This year, expect to find kids of all ages ready to compete in animal shows, exhibits, and presentations as they go for top honors and awards. Rabbits, poultry, sheep, beef cattle, dairy animals, ducks, horses, and swine will be looking their best for judging rounds and shows, and
4-H members are ready to impress spectators with the quality of their animal entries and many other projects.
Play all sorts of games, and find delight in beloved rides like the tilt-a-whirl, merry-go-round and ferris wheel, as well as in some new surprises, on the 2021 midway. The midway will have it all, and something for everyone.
Younger or more timid riders will have opportunities to enjoy smaller, slower, “stay on the ground” rides, while thrill seekers can get their adrenaline pumping on wilder, more breathtaking rides.
An ATM will be available on site, and credit cards will be accepted this year. The parking fee has been increased to $5, up from $3 in 2019, in order to offset the revenue lost in 2020. Gate admission is free of charge.
Again this year, as it has for the past several years, the fair will offer discounted rides in exchange for donations of non-perishable food items for the Becker County Food Pantry. The fair collected 5,300 pounds of donated food in 2018, and hopes to exceed that amount this year. The Fair Board encourages all attendees to participate in the food drive, if possible.
Specials this year include armbands for $20 from 5 p.m. to close on Wednesday, with a donation of two non-perishable food items; and three armbands for $45 from 1-5 p.m. on Friday, with a donation of three non-perishable food items.
Always a much-anticipated event, the Tractor Parade will be returning to the fair this year, in honor of Norman Danielson and Jeff Letorneau. It’s scheduled for Saturday, July 31 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the featured tractor will be a J.I. Case, with Vernon Hanson as the driver. Event participants are welcome to visit local nursing homes immediately following the parade. Registration details can be found online at beckercountyfair.com.
A Pancake and Sausage Breakfast for Tractor Parade participants and support personnel will start at 9 a.m. Saturday at Adkin’s Equipment north of Detroit Lakes, on Richwood Road. Prizes for Tractor Parade drivers will be provided by DL Farnum NAPA.
And don’t miss the Grandstand events this year, kicking off with the 2nd Annual April Stenger Volleyball Tournament, free to spectators. This event is named in memory of April Stenger, who died in a boat crash in 2015 at the age of 26; she was originally from Frazee and later lived in Lake Park. The tournament starts at 5 p.m. and will be hosted by Tammi Bigger.
The Tractor Pull, a fair favorite, will start at 7 p.m. Thursday night and will showcase modified pickups and tractors. More excitement will follow on Friday and Saturday with Automotive Barrel Racing at 7 p.m. and Demo Derbies at 7:30.
Automotive Barrel Racing is timed and similar to horse racing in that it uses three identical barrels set in a cloverleaf pattern as its course. It’s loud, fast, and fun to watch. Check it out as it relaunches onto the fair scene for its second time around, having debuted here in 2019.
The Demo Derby has been happening for several years and features drivers from all around the Lakes Area. Friday’s derby will be for the chain compact class, chain and go trucks, and 1980s and newer categories, while Saturday will be for builders compact cars, builders full-sized cars, limited weld trucks, and old iron class. Each night, there will be a split-the-pot raffle. It’ll be fierce competition as junkers go wide open for prize money.