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Schedule set for 121st annual Wadena County Fair

A new show arena will be the most conspicuous addition to the 2014 Wadena County Fair, but organizers are shooting for more than just finishing the physical rehabilitation of the grounds, which were largely wiped out in the 2010 tornado.

They're also expanding entertainment.

"In the last three years, it has really, really grown," said Diane Vry, secretary of the Wadena County Ag Society, the group that organizes the event. "We've had very positive feedback."

The 121st annual fair starts Wednesday, June 25 with 4-H judging of non-livestock events during the afternoon and a grand opening set for 6 p.m., when the carnival rides open. The carnival ends Saturday night, although the final fair event is a Western Saddle Clubs Association open horse show Sunday at 9 a.m.

This year, there will be two nights of live music instead of one. Junk FM, a genre-bending Minneapolis foursome, will take the concert stage Friday at 9 p.m. Menahga rock band Audio Throttle will play a show Saturday night as festivities wrap up.

The popular National Tractor Pullers Association competition will also be expanded to two days, Friday and Saturday.

And Thursday at 6:30 p.m., the Leader Area Pig Races - a weekly summertime tradition in the Cass County hamlet - will come to the fair for the first time.

Of course, the event will still feature familiar favorites - fried foods, livestock events, the petting zoo, a dunk tank, caricatures and a beer garden.

Vry said the board is hoping for drier conditions than last year, when the midway had to be moved to pavement because the field was a sloppy mess. Drainage improvements should help.

Although all of the main venues have been rebuilt (instead of replacing the industrial building, the board is planning to use the last of the FEMA money to add additional indoor bathrooms and showers), the board plans to continue to build the fair's reputation as a fun way to spend a summer weekend, Vry said.

"I would like, in five years, to see us be in the top five in the state," she said. "The only way we can do that is with the community's support."

Admission to the Wadena County Fair is free, but the carnival rides and grandstand events cost extra - $5 for the pig races and $15 (ages 7 and up) for the tractor pull.

For a full fair schedule, check out