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116th Annual Wadena County Fair starts today

A Barnyard Olympics, fireworks and livestock shows are a salute to rural life and an opportunity for economical entertainment at the 116th Annual Wadena County Fair today (Thursday) through Saturday.

"In our county fair the whole object is to provide people ... a cheap or free source of entertainment for the whole family," Ag Society President Jeff Nardello said.

There is no gate fee to attend the fair.

Nardello estimated attendance at more than 6,000 last year and thinks more may attend this year because of the difficult economy.

"And we're hoping we see more people because the fair's getting better each year," he said.

Nardello credits the fair board and other volunteers for the improvements.

"They do more things for free than most people do if they get paid," he said. "It just amazes me the time and expense they put in."

A new event that's getting a lot of interest is the No Fear Thrill Show that will take place shortly after 7 p.m. Friday night. It includes a rollover contest where participants can win a trophy based on how many times they roll their car, he said.

The Wild West Show is back after debuting last year. Inflatable games will replace the carnival again this year. The Water Gun Battle will help cool off teenagers and anyone else who wants to play, Nardello said.

Helicopter rides are available all three days.

Bands are scheduled to play every night of the fair, he said. And the VFW is doing the Beer Garden, which he thinks will be great this year.

An enduring favorite at the fair is the Home and Hobbies Building organized by Faye Mavis, he said. People take pride in their canning and gardening and this is an opportunity for them to display what they can do.

"That's the country part of the fair," Nardello said.

4-H activities continue to be a main focus of the fair, he said.

Kristen Huebsch, the county's 4-H program coordinator, said the livestock shows on Thursday and Friday and the Pride Auction Saturday are highlights for 4-H kids.

A couple of kids will do a horse demo and a dog demo on Saturday. And there will be an exhibition dog show on Saturday as well, she said. For the second year, 4-H is having a llama show at 4 p.m. Friday. It should be a lot of fun, Huebsch said. The funny-looking animals will go over an obstacle course.

4-H membership is up to almost 200 kids this year from around 178 last year, she said. It was about 165 the year before. Around 170 kids will bring projects to the fair this year, Huebsch said.

4-H has also been involved in improving the grounds and promoting the fair, Nardello said. And the buildings get fixed up more each year thanks to county funding.

"We just hope everybody comes and gives it a try," he said.

For a complete schedule and more information about the fair visit