County fairs offer a mix of old-fashioned and modern-day fun

  • Article by: ANNA PRATT , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 15, 2014 - 2:26 PM

Upcoming metro-area county fairs serve up entertainment of all variety.


Carver County Fair:  What’s more fun than mayhem? A demolition derby is a fair staple.

Often described as “mini state fairs,” county fairs across Minnesota draw thousands of people every year, as they have for decades.

Although smaller in scale than the Great Minnesota Get-Together, the numerous county fairs are jam-packed with grandstand events, concerts, livestock, exhibits, carnivals, food, all kinds of contests and more. The fairs, many dating back more than a century, feature a blend of old and new activities, and while trying to appeal to a younger crowd, they’re also paying homage to their history.

Here are several county fairs coming up this month and next in the west and north metro.

wright county fair july 30-aug.3

Troy Beise remembers sweeping out the barns at the Wright County Fair as a child. Today, he belongs to the fair’s board, helping to plan the festivities.

His uncle Dennis Beise, who has worked for the fair for more than 40 years, “taught me to think beyond and stay progressive,” he said.

More than 76,000 people attended the fair last year, and it has grown steadily through the years. “We feel we’re on the right track,” with activities that cater to many different interests and all ages, Troy Beise said.

This year is the 144th for the fair. The Wright County Historical Society is helping to put together a display titled “Memories of the Fair.” One piece of history that stands out to Beise is that the fairgrounds were used as a POW camp during World War II. “There’s history in everything you look at, at the fair,” he said.

In addition to its past, Beise also touts the fair’s present. He notes, for example, the number and types of animals at the fair, both for competition and display. The swine barn has up to 90 pigs alone, he said, and there are also plenty of horses and cattle. A new attraction this year is to guess the weight of a potbellied pig named Little Laura, he added.

The Twin Cities Fantasy Factory Mega Jump Traveling BMX Stunt Show is returning for the second year, something that Beise pushed for, he said. In conjunction with that, Allina Health will give away 400 bike helmets to children at the fair. Allina is also working with the fair to bring a mobile eye unit to the grounds, which will offer free eye exams to people, Beise said.

Other attractions include a demolition derby, a talent show, live music, mud races, petting zoo, logrolling and tractor and truck pulls — a county fair classic that inspires friendly competition. They’re “a way for someone to show their machine against another,” Beise said, adding, “Everybody brings their best and gets judged, in this case, by distance.”

All in all, “I can’t think of a better way for the community to get together, bring their families and have a full day of everything around the county,” he said.


When: Wednesday-Sunday July 30-Aug. 3; Wednesday 10 a.m.-midnight, Thursday-Saturday 8 a.m.-midnight, Sunday 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

Where: 1010 1st St., Howard Lake.

Cost: Adults $5; students 13-17 $2; 12 and under free; season pass $15 (parking $3 or season pass $10 and combination admission/parking pass is $20).

For more information: Call 763-972-2880 before the fair and 320-543-2111 the week of the fair or for tickets call 320-543-3119 or check out


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