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Washington County fair seeks variety

The carnival is open daily during the Washington County Fair and will close at 9:30 each night. (Bulletin file photo)1 / 2
The 4-H Arts-In Show is among the free entertainment offered at the Washington County Fair. The 4-H show is held daily. (Bulletin file photo)2 / 2

When the gates open at the Washington County Fair this week, organizers hope they've got entertainment for everybody entering.

From stage shows to a truck pull, and from authors to animals, the fair is trying to satisfy attendees' varying interests.

"Finding a lot of variety that can entertain a whole family -- that's probably one of the things that we work really hard at," said Liz Dietsche, the fair's special attractions director.

The 2013 fair runs Wednesday through Sunday, July 31-Aug. 4, at the fairgrounds in Lake Elmo. The events schedule for the fair's five-day run is peppered with music and other entertainment, in addition to the usual animal exhibits, gardening expos, deep-fried treats and carnival rides.

Organizers have enlisted a number of new musical performers for this year's fair. They include the Little Thunderbirds, a Minneapolis-based Native American powwow group; the Green Fire Irish Dancers performing traditional and Riverdance-style dancing; the Dirty Shorts Brass Band; a comedic pantomime act called Theater of Fools; and northwestern Wisconsin author and monologist Michael Perry.

The fair received grants from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund to pay for appearances by the Little Thunderbirds, Green Fire Irish Dancers and Perry. Those Legacy Amendment funds are meant to provide performances that educate about the state's traditional heritage and the region's arts, Dietsche said.

Another new act at the fair will be the Choo Choo Bob and The Holy Smokestacks, a Twin Cities-based children's railroad variety show.

Of course, entertainment comes in different ways for fair-goers. In addition to stage performances, the fair features 4-H exhibits, horse shows, livestock competitions, art displays, a pie-eating contest, law enforcement demonstrations, a talent show and other activities.

The big evening entertainment Thursday is the Western Wisconsin Truck Pullers. Bull riders will be center stage Friday night. Cars will collide in the demolition derby on Saturday evening, and a tractor pull will draw crowds on Sunday.

The average total attendance for the five-day fair is about 52,000 people. That has slowly grown, even during the economic recession and since then.

"I think a lot more people are staying home" in the summer, Dietsche said. "I think we've added enough stuff that it makes it a lot more interesting to come out to the fair."

If you go

Admission to the fair is $7 for adults 16 and older; $6 for children ages 6 to 15; and free for those who are 5 or younger.

Gates open at 7 a.m. daily, and the exhibit buildings are open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The fairgrounds are at 12300 40th St., Lake Elmo.

For a complete schedule of events at the fair, go to:

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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