Posted 7/05/16 (Tue)
By Jack Dura
Farmer Staff Writer
Groups of youngsters gathered round in corners of the McKenzie County Fairgrounds, some helping raise a flag, some riding a forklift, others working with hands and arms splashed in white paint.
Wednesday, June 29, was cleanup day at the fairgrounds, and up to 75 4-H’ers turned out to help prepare the fairgrounds for the July 7-9 festivities, including livestock showings, demolition derbies and a carnival.
“It takes time,” fair board secretary Carolyn Levang said. “Everybody has to work together. It’s teamwork.”
Heavily involved in the fair is 4-H, with over 120 kids this year following fairs with numbers in the 50s.
“That shows the growth,” Marcia Hellandsaas of North Dakota State’s county extension said. “The barns are completely filled to capacity.”
Kylee Boltz and Brooklyn Bang will show their steers and pigs. Boltz has drawings and photography of nature scenes to show as well. Bang named her steer Frisky “because he’s wild,” she added.
Paige Delaney is hoping to “get a lot of money with” her steer Kirby. Sylvia Boeckelman is working with her steer too, in addition to preparing some food.
“I want to see all the projects,” she added.
The young women and many other 4-H’ers turned out for a day of cleaning and sprucing up the fairgrounds, from the bleachers to the stables. Fair board members also cleaned in the weeks prior to fair time.
Levang estimated 50 kids had helped out by 1 p.m. Wednesday, and Hellandsaas said she had tables set to serve 75 for mealtime.
Turnout for the fair is hard to peg, Levang said, particularly following the years of the oil boom, but 800 people through the gates a day is a rough estimate, as the fair boomed with the energy industry.
Hellandsaas has worked the fair for over 25 years, and said many of the fair’s events are tried and true, year after year.
“It’s something we’ve tried and it always goes over well, so we just continue to do,” she said of events like homemade ice cream and the Lil Buckaroo Rodeo.
From little kids to grandparents, the fair has something for everyone to see, and “a whole variety” of people attend, Hellandsaas added, from area farmers and ranchers to tourists to families.
Planning the fair starts in November, Levang said, booking events at a convention.
“That’s where you book your carnival and your magic shows,” Levang said.
Fair board member Janel Lee has helped to line up entertainment and vendors for the fair, including Animal Specialties, an interactive zoo this year with chickens, potbellied pigs and pony rides.
“They hatch chickens, you can milk cows,” Lee said. “It’s very large and interactive. It’s supposed to be a learning experience.”
The zoo is a fair favorite, Lee added. This year will feature the biggest carnival yet, she said, put on by Northstar Amusements.
Carnival activities will include games of chance, large rides for older and younger children and food booths.
The Double Vision Strolling Magicians will also entertain fair goers.
“They’ll be walking around,” Lee said. “They’re twins. We call them Double Trouble.”
Lee added the popular demolition derby is set for the fair too.
“The derby is big,” she said.
Levang said one heat of a pickup derby and one heat of a chain and bang will take place this year. The chain and bang is new for 2016, an event that virtually strips vehicles of their interior.
A free beef barbecue is Thursday night, Lee said, following a draft horse pull. Among other events like Farm Olympics, Williston Wood Workers and McKenzie County Caviar, Curly’s Funtastic Kid Zone will offer amusement for youngsters with games, straw bales and a tent.
Major fair events include the NDRA and Lil Buckaroo rodeos on Saturday, with many more events sprinkled around the highlights.
Gate entrance is $5 for the fair with a $20 pre-sale carnival ticket at all Watford City financial institutions, or $30 on site per day.
“There’s something for somebody every single day,” Levang said.