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4-H Barnyard Olympics, reptiles and carnival fun highlight East Otter Tail County Fair on July 23

Event attendees enjoyed exotic reptiles, a myriad of carnival rides and games, and 4-H members competing in the annual Barnyard Olympics as part of the East Otter Tail County Fair in Perham on Saturday, July 23.

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Members of the East Otter Tail County 4-H Club prepare to catch eggs thrown from their teammates during the 4-H Barnyard Olympics, part of the East Otter Tail County Fair in Perham on July 23, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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PERHAM — Teams of 4-H members got dirty during a friendly competition, reptiles on display gave passers-by a chance to overcome a common fear, and smiling faces, with the occasional scream, filled the carnival on Saturday, July 23 during the East Otter Tail County Fair in Perham.

Much of the afternoon action was in the 4-H arena. More than 10 teams, of four members each, competed in their 4th Annual Barnyard Olympics, which featured a sack race relay, egg toss and wheelbarrow races.

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A member of the East Otter Tail County 4-H Club competes in a sack race during the 4-H Barnyard Olympics, part of the East Otter Tail County Fair in Perham on July 23, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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An East Otter Tail County 4-H Club member watches an egg slide through her fingers during the 4-H Barnyard Olympics, part of the county fair in Perham on July 23, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

"This entire week, I feel like we've just been focused on showing, and we enjoy having those things, but you also have to be professional ... it's a high stress environment and this is a way for all of us to have some fun competition" said Alyvia Bunkowski, a 4-H Olympics organizer. "We get to be involved with each other and not have to worry about, is my animal clean, or is my project worthy of a purple, this is just fun."

She also said building relationships is what 4-H is about.

The winners of the sack race relay in the senior division were the Northside Cowboys, with team Da Boyz winning the junior division event. Following the relay, teammate pairs lined up across from each other to participate in the egg toss. After each completion, one member of each team moved back about five feet for the next round, until there was about 40 feet between the pairs. Many of the eggs didn't make it, but the Spidermonkeys' egg made it through in one piece to claim the senior division title.

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Members of the East Otter Tail County 4-H club compete in a wheelbarrow race during the 4-H Barnyard Olympics, part of the East Otter Tail County Fair in Perham on July 23, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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Members of the East Otter Tail County 4-H club compete in a wheelbarrow race during the 4-H Barnyard Olympics, part of the East Otter Tail County Fair in Perham on July 23, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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One team fell, as another rounded the corner during a wheelbarrow race involving members of the East Otter Tail County 4-H Club at the 4-H Barnyard Olympics, part of the county fair in Perham on July 23, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

"I like the wheelbarrow races just because they are crazy and hectic," said Bunkowski.

Another tent that drew attendees for a closer look was the Reptile and Amphibian Discovery Zoo, of Medford, Minn. Various snakes, lizards and turtles were on display and Peter Hetherington, a zoo keeper for the RAD zoo, was available and encouraged attendees to meet Ophelia, the 12-pound boa constrictor.

"We just like to help educate people about the different types of reptiles out there and a lot of people think that reptiles are cold, and mean creatures, but a lot of them have a lot of personality and a lot of them are really friendly," said Hetherington. "(The kids) are either really scared, where they don't want anything to do with (the reptiles), or they are really excited and they want to learn about it and want to touch everything they can. It's a lot of fun seeing people's different reactions."

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A zookeeper displays Ophelia, a 12-pound boa constrictor, to kids during the East Otter Tail County Fair in Perham on July 23, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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Max Roerick, 3, of Detroit Lakes, touches a lizard during the East Otter Tail County Fair in Perham on July 23, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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Kids touch a 12-pound boa constrictor from the Reptile and Amphibian Discovery Zoo during the East Otter Tail County Fair in Perham on July 23, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

He also said the zoo features about 200 different kinds of animals, but they are always available to take a few on the road for private events or large county fairs.

"Come see, touch some of the bigger snakes, some of the alligators, we do feeding shows on the weekend and it's a lot of fun for the family," he said.

The Family Fun Show carnival also featured excited screams and a fun atmosphere, as attendees made their way through various rides and games.

"It's an ongoing working vacation," said Greg Hughes, owner of the Mankato-based Family Fun Show carnival.

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Girls ride on the Scrambler during the East Otter Tail County Fair in Perham on July 23, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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Carnival-goers ride an alligator roller coaster during the East Otter Tail County Fair in Perham on July 23, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

He and his co-owner wife, Gail, work events all summer long, with many other family members helping throughout the summer. Their grandchildren, Kason, 9, and Layton, 6, said they like going to the fairs because of all the animals they get to meet, but they also love riding their carnival rides too.

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"(The grand kids) get to go to different places, different historical marks," said Hughes. "They get to experience all the different people in different areas. They get to see the state from north to south, east to west."

It's still work though, Hughes stressed. He said Layton was pouring lemonade for his mom for a few hours on the Fourth of July, so there is always something to do.

"They have to work, and they feel like they're a part of it when they are working," said Hughes. "But when we come to the fair, they get to go into the barns. They get to experience the chicks, and the cows, and the pigs, and everything, so they become very worldly, very fast."

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Kason Hubbard, left, 9, and Layton Hubbard, 7, hold baby chicks during the East Otter Tail County Fair in Perham on July 23, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

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