It’s Fair time
By Amy Robinson
Farmer Staff Writer
This year’s 56th McKenzie County Fair is right around the corner and promises “Summertime Fun for Everyone.” So get ready to devour some delightfully deep-fried food, take in the rodeo events, ride the fun carnival rides, look at creative 4-H projects, and of course, get ready to put a smile on your face.
“The Fair is wonderful for our young people,” says Marcia Hellandsaas, Family and Consumer Science Extension agent with the North Dakota State University (NDSU) McKenzie County Extension Office. “I encourage people to praise and encourage our kids and their work. I would also encourage the adults to ask the kids what they’re doing and look at their 4-H projects. I say learn something new yourself.”
The McKenzie County Fair will open with 4-H and Open Class Exhibits and animal weigh-ins on Wednesday, July 8. Exhibits will be located at the Homemaker Building at the Fairgrounds, and on display Thursday through Saturday. Judging will be from 1 to 4 p.m. on Thursday, July 9. And much of the weekend’s entertainment, while not open on Wednesday, will be at the Fairgrounds setting up.
According to Kim Neprash, administrative assistant for the NDSU McKenzie County Extension Office, there are 155 kids enrolled in 4-H throughout McKenzie County, and they have seen an extensive increase in Fair projects this year, up 80 projects from just last year.
“4-H is a great leadership organization,” says Susan Wold, one 4-H parent. “Kids learn leadership skills and it’s wide open to all different interests. Kids can pick what they like and what they want to do, and the Fair is basically a culmination for the kids to display what they’ve learned.”
Hellandsaas has been involved with 4-H for 25 years now and says the organization offers over 100 different projects for kids to choose from. She says 4-H is a life skills-building program meant to empower the kids. And the program also offers kids the opportunity to learn by doing, while building youth, adult, and community partnerships.
“The Fair is a showcase of the kids’ projects,” said Hellandsaas. “It’s a display of their past year’s hard work with animals and other projects.”
“The Fair is a great place for kids to gain valuable life experiences through interviewing, judging, and displaying their work and talents,” says Neprash. “The best part about 4-H is building these 4-H families. I get to meet these kids, watch them grow, leave, and come back. Now, I’m seeing the next generation of these kids.”
Twelve-year-old Riley Faller, who’s been in 4-H since kindergarten, is looking forward to showing her goats and several projects at this year’s Fair.
“I have a few exhibits I’m entering this year,” said Faller. “They are informational boards. One is on veterinarians for careers and another one is on rabbit meat breeds - three that I’ve been focusing on. What I like about 4-H is learning new things each year. Things are always different and changing, and I like learning about things I never knew about.”
Another 4-H member is Breann Obritsch, who will be a senior this year, and has been involved with 4-H for the past nine years. She received a ‘Grand Champion Showman’ award with her sheep last year, as well as earning a spot in the Round Robin, ultimately placing first and ‘winning it all.’
“I will show a pig, sheep, steer, and goat this year,” said Obritsch. “I’m also entering in a wood-working project and an animal science project. I like 4-H because it’s been a good opportunity to get outside, meet people, learn different responsibilities like taking care of your animal, and just having fun.”
Thirteen-year-old Dale Chinn, who’s been involved in 4-H for the past five years is also very excited for this year’s Fair. He will be showing a steer, goat, and pig, as well as entering in a baking exhibit.
“4-H is important because it makes you interact outside,” says Chinn, “and it teaches you responsibility. Plus you get to make new friends. I’m very excited for the Fair this year.”
Chinn’s 4-H friend, Brayden Obritsch, is also looking forward to Fair this year. With eight years of 4-H involvement under his belt, this 15-year-old is looking forward to seeing what place his welding project will take as well as his steer, goat, pig, and eggs.
“I got ‘Grand Champion’ in my class with my steer two years ago,” said Obritsch. “And I got ‘Champion of the Fair’ with my market lamb three years ago. 4-H gives you the opportunity to meet other people from McKenzie County. It teaches you different responsibilities, how to work hard, and teaches you that if you do work hard - hard work pays off.”
Once the 4-H kids enter their exhibits and weigh-in their animals on Wednesday, the carnival, along with Curly’s Funtastic Kid Zone will be open for business from Thursday, July 9, to Saturday, July 11, and kids will also be able to enjoy a Strolling Magician on each of those days.
According to Janel Lee, a Fair Board member, the carnival will be bringing rides for all ages. In addition to a variety of rides, there will be games of chance to participate in as well.
The McKenzie County Fair is also sponsoring this year’s Animal Specialties from Thursday through Saturday, which will feature a very large free petting zoo.
“It’s not just a petting zoo either,” says Lee. “It’ll be educational as well. For example, they will show the kids how to milk a cow. They will be teaching a lot about agriculture. Kids will be able to feed the animals and they’ll have a chance to actually milk a cow. There will also be pony rides for a fee. And they’re bringing a long-horn steer. There will definitely be a large molt of animals they’ll be bringing this year.”
Another attraction the McKenzie County Fair is bringing back this year is Spray Paint Artist Matt Sorenson. He will be spray-painting on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Sorenson spray paints murals on cars as part of a nighttime program. He uses fire and other crowd-pleasing techniques as part of his highly-anticipated shows.
On Thursday at 4 p.m., the McKenzie County Fair Parade will journey down Watford City’s Main Street, followed by the Free Beef Barbecue at 5:30 in the Multi-Purpose Building. The Olaf Leiseth Jr. Memorial Draft Horse Competition will then begin at 7 p.m. in the Rodeo Arena. Also being featured on Friday at 3 and 6:30 p.m. will be an Open Class Show, presented by Marcia Hellandsaas, on how to make ‘Homemade Ice Cream’ in the Homemaker Building at the Fairgrounds.
On Friday, 4-H judging will continue along with an awards presentation at 1 p.m. in the Livestock Show Arena located at the Fairgrounds. Farm Olympics will then take place at 4 p.m., followed by the Demolition Derby in the Rodeo Arena at 6 p.m. Closing out the night will be the “Marshall Catch Band,” an indie-rock band from Kalispell, Mont., who will take the stage and share their modern rock tunes with the crowd.
The Youth Rodeo will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday, with the NDRA Rodeo Slack at 1 p.m., the Lil’ Buckaroo Rodeo at 3 p.m., and the NDRA Rodeo at 6 p.m. And the “Marshall Catch Band” will, again, take the stage at 9 p.m. to conclude Saturday’s events.
Also featured on Saturday will be a special Cake Social, celebrating 75 years of the Banks Willing Workers 4-H Club at 2 p.m., and a Cake Walk at 5 p.m., both taking place in the Homemaker Building, located at the Fairgrounds.
Commercial exhibits will close at 9 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and at 7 p.m. on Saturday. 4-H exhibits and Open Class exhibits will close at 9 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
General Admission is $5 for a button, which is good for all three days. Demolition Derby and NDRA Rodeo tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for ages six through 13. Children ages six and under are free.
Carnival wrist bands will be available to purchase for $18 on Thursday, July 9, at the Fair office. Each wrist band is good for one day of unlimited rides.
For more information regarding the Fair, contact Carolyn Levang at 701-675-2306, 701-770-6938, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.