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Crow Wing County Fair opened Tuesday

There's a lot that goes into raising the perfect farm animal.

There's the grooming, the constant feeding, the handling and the bathing.

And each year, dozens of area 4-H Club kids and teens put their hard work to show at the Crow Wing County Fair.

The fair started Tuesday and runs through Aug. 2 at the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds, located on 13th Street Southeast in Brainerd.

Veteran 4-Hers like 12-year-old Elizabeth Studniski know the secrets to successful shows.

Studniski has shown rabbits at the fair for six years. This time, she's showing Jade, a 4-month old black rabbit.

Minutes before go-time, Studniski sat on the back bleachers with friends Hayden Carlson, 11, and Kaysie Carlson, 13.

In the lap of each of the girls, a calm rabbit. Hayden Carlson held Crayon, a 4-month-old white beauty with black ears. Kaysie Carlson held Zu Zu, a 4-month-old white rabbit with brown paws.

They've been through many shows. You have to be compassionate, outgoing and talkative, they say.

"You have to wake up early, snuggle with him a lot to prepare him," Hayden Carlson said.

There's not a lot of competition between 4-Hers who show little animals. But the bigger animals like horses, that's where competition is tough, the girls say.

Nearby, 13-year-old Reilley Hettver poured seeds in the cage of her two cornish cross chickens.

During a show, the feathers must be perfect. The bird, plump.

Hettver is a little nervous about the question part. Last time judges asked how many calories are in a bag of feed.

In her five years of shows, Hettver has studied a lot for that part of the competition.

Fair organizers are expecting up to 90,000 people to visit the fair during the week.

So far Tuesday, things were running smoothly and people were already starting to pour in on the start day, said fair general manager J.D. Grimsley.

"We're full. We can't hold any more," he said of the booths and exhibits.

He continued, "Families love it. They come and spend the day or even come back every day."

The fair will continue the same events in the grandstands for the week, which include motocross on Wednesday; baja rally races on Thursday and Friday; and the bull riding event Aug. 2. The pit gates open at 4 p.m. each day of the fair with the events beginning at 7 p.m., with the exception of Tuesday.

Arts, crafts and entertainment will fill the Northland Stage inside the Fran Holden Curling Arena on the fairgrounds property. Live entertainment on the stage include Doug Ohman, Lyndon Peterson, the Kari Lynn Show, Everett Smithson Band and Trisha and the Toonies. Author Guy Kelm of "The Apron" will make an appearance at 11 a.m. Thursday.

Favorites that will be back to the fair include the Cock-A-Doodle Zoo and the Mutton Bustin' event, where children ride sheep, is scheduled Thursday, with the championship to be held during the intermission Aug. 2 during the bull riding event.

A closer look at the fair schedule:

• On the Mills Free Stage

Wednesday: Country Times, Henry Stockert, 1-4:30 p.m.; Alan Godage & Sundown, 6-10 p.m.

Thursday: Virg and the Eldorado's, 1-3:30 p.m.; The Red Letter Band, 6-10 p.m.

Friday: Pre-teen talent contest, 1 p.m.; Teen talent contest, 3 p.m.; open class talent contest, 5 p.m.; teen dance, 7-10 p.m.

Aug. 2: Ray's Promenaders, 4:30-6 p.m.; Wanted, 7-10 p.m.

• Theme days:

Wednesday: Senior Citizen Day

Thursday: Ag Day

Friday: Teen Day

Aug. 2: Kids' Day

• Grandstand events:

Wednesday: Motocross

Thursday: Baja rally races

Friday: Baja rally races

Aug. 2: Bull riding

For a full list of events go to:

Jessie Perrine
Jessie covers the Brainerd City Council and the Brainerd School Board. Born and raised in southern Minnesota, Jessie attended Winona State University, where she majored in journalism with a minor in women and gender studies. She worked at the Winona Daily News, Tomah Journal and the La Crosse Tribune before starting at the Dispatch in 2012.
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