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2012 fair 'one of the best'

Photo by Brian Hansel Sebastian Kempf of Wadena had himself a ball June 28 on one of the midway attractions at the Wadena County Fair.

Strong attendance marked the 2012 Wadena County Fair, and organizers said they plan to repeat what worked this year for next year's fair.

The fair board met Monday evening, and Board President Mike Olson said they have set the dates for next year: June 26-29. With another early fair for 2013, they aim to book the same carnival.

Fair Board Treasurer Malinda Dexter said they do not have exact numbers since gate admission is free.

However, she said, visual observations and feedback from people indicated the fair was well attended and well received this year.

"I've been involved with the fair for 50 years and this is one of the best I've seen," she said.

Dexter and Olson both cited the Midwest Rides carnival, the rodeo and the exotic petting zoo as being particularly crucial to the fair's success, and plans are to book them all again for next year.

Olson said people approached him and said it was the best carnival in 20 to 30 years.

He said the board approved signing the contract for Midwest Rides again, and the owner was pleased with the turnout.

Another big feature, the Buffington Rodeo, attracted an estimated 1,100 spectators.

Dexter, who was in charge of all the horse activities, agreed that activities, such as festivities put on by the 4-H drill team, went well.

"We had to keep bringing in bleachers," she said. "There was standing room only."

Dexter said the band "Switch" also brought in many people Saturday night, and other entertainers and features kept people at the fairgrounds much later than usual.

Pete Phillips, who ran a dunk tank as a fundraiser for the Wadena Hockey Club, said they were busy all three days.

"I can't remember there being more people at the fair ever," he said. "When I was a kid it may have been bigger, but boy, not in recent memory."

Dexter said one down side of the earlier date was pressure on horticulture and floral entries, but some made, it in spite of the fair being held a month before the usual time.

Olson said he was thankful for the public's support and hopes there is also a strong turnout next year.