By Bailey Hovland
I’ve been a community member of the Willmar Lakes Area for my whole life, and if there’s one single event that defines what it means to live here, it’s the Kandiyohi County Fair. Every year, the fairgrounds come to life in the beginning of August. Local farmers, growers, businesses, and 4-H members set up shop next to Foot Lake to show residents and visitors what our community has been founded on: agriculture and community.
Every year, this is the one place I make sure to visit. The animal petting barn has the cutest calves and mini horses that you get to pet! Just make sure to wash your hands after.
Walking across the gravel paths of the Kandiyohi County Fairgrounds, you can stop by the Little Red Schoolhouse to see what education was like back in the day. The single room schoolhouse’s walls will be decorated with rows and rows of coloring pages, showcasing the kids coloring and writing contest entrants. Or maybe you’ll find yourself at the 4-H Food Stand, which always has a delicious slice of pie to share with a friend (or eat yourself). You might even wander into a few livestock barns, where you can get up close and personal with cows, goats, rabbits, and more!
From August 8-11, the Kandiyohi County Fairgrounds will be hosting activities and events daily, ranging from the typical livestock competitions (rabbits and goats and cows, oh my!) to the brand-new Bengal Tiger Encounter Shows. The themes and events change from day to day, offering more than 4-H displays and traditional exhibits in the Old Settlers’ Cabin (although to be fair, those exhibits are always changing and interesting as well).
As a community founded on agriculture, we look forward to antique tractor displays, parades, and tractor pulls.
On Wednesday, August 8, the county fair will be celebrating Veteran’s Day with a Veteran Tribute at 11:30 a.m. on the Heritage Square Stage, followed by a free Veteran’s lunch to honor those who have served in our military. The Prairie Winds Concert Band will be playing away before and after the Veteran’s activities, touting the numerous talented and expressive instrumentalists in the area. Rabbit and sheep judging will be going on throughout the day for both 4-H’rs and others, the primary animals judged on the first day. And if you’re hoping for something exhilarating to end the day, the grandstand will be featuring bull riding, a new show certain to get you on the edge of your seat.
Thursday, August 9, will bring horse judging, antique tractor displays, and a combination of the two in the draft horse and antique tractor parade at 3 p.m. The two biggest events of the day are the senior citizen program on the Heritage Square Stage at 2 p.m., recognizing the 2018 outstanding senior citizens, and the talent contest at 6 p.m., where local entertainers will compete to move on to the Minnesota State Fair.
And Friday, August 10, llama judging and a cow-milking contest are two of the livestock features for the day. But the cow-milking won’t be done by farmers who know what they’re doing—no, it’ll be done by a few local celebrities. Maybe the mayor will try his hand at the udder…
You’ll find the best fair food day or night at the Kandiyohi County Fair. Photo by Gregory Harp.
Lastly, on Saturday, August 11, will be a wide range of activities throughout the day. Kids can get free milk and cookies at 11 a.m., a Bakers Best “Bundt Cake” Contest will be happening at 11:30 a.m., and the 4-H Awards Program will be showcased at 3 p.m.. Through the entirety of the fair there will be Bengal Tiger Encounter Shows, KnockerBall, a climbing wall, blacksmithing and corn shucking machine demonstrations, a gas engine display, BINGO hosted by the Pennock Lions, and a Haunted House put on by the Willmar Nite Lions.
With a warm summer breeze coming off Foot Lake and the smell of mini-doughnuts in the air, a night out at the Kandiyohi County Fair brings residents of the Willmar Lakes Area back to their roots and showcases the area’s unique community built on agriculture. It doesn’t matter if you’re hoping to pet a few farm animals, listen to some local music, or learn more about the agricultural base of the county. The Kandiyohi County Fair has something for you.
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