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CROW WING COUNTY FAIR Nortons find fair medallion — again

Madisyn (left), Tim, Haley and Dawn Norton went back to the location under the M1 / 3
Audree Rosekrans tried to pet a goat Tuesday in the dairy and goat barn at the C2 / 3
From her perch in the hay bales above the dairy cows Tuesday, 4-Her Reilley Hett3 / 3

Finding the Crow Wing County Fair medallion barely into a toasty Tuesday afternoon on the fair’s first day may be remarkable. 

Try doing it twice. 

For the Norton family of Baxter, winning the $1,000 for finding the medallion was a blessing they prayed for as they contemplated the cost of driving to see relatives in Denver. They had the exact same experience in 2008. Since then Tim Norton’s father battled cancer and they planned to bring him back to Minnesota on their return trip. 

Dawn Norton said they budgeted for a bare-bones trip. Now they won’t have to worry about it and will have enough to actually eat out while they are in Colorado. 

The Nortons — Dawn, Tim and their daughters, Haley and Madisyn — got the first clue at 11:30 a.m. With the clue to look “round and round and round you go,” Dawn said they looked by the horse show ring about 30 minutes and then considered wheels for the clue and searched by the tractors. As the morning clouds gave way to hot sunshine, they retreated back to their fair booth for The Pulse 100.1-FM, a Christian radio station, where Tim Norton works. 

Dawn said a short time later her husband said he’d go look again. Five minutes later, he was back with the medallion. He found it underneath the ramp by the Mills Free Stage. Tim Norton said he read the rules, looked at the clue and prayed for a moment.

“I said, ‘OK God, you’ve got to lead me to this,’” Tim Norton said. 

Norton walked around the stage and looked at the length of the ramp. He could see something that looked like aluminum or a brace of some sort. It wasn’t.

“I felt it and it wasn’t metal,” Tim Norton said. “I’m like you’ve got to be kidding me. I ripped it off and it was all duct-taped together and everything. I just ran as fast as I could back. I didn’t even unwrap it.”

Dawn Norton broke into tears when she saw the find. 

“Last time we were going out to see my mom and dad out in Colorado and we didn’t have the money,” Tim Norton said. “Same situation this time. My dad since then has had cancer and he’s coming back for five weeks so we want to bring him back. We just don’t have the money, but we are going to go anyway. So there you go, prayers answered.”

Tim Norton said the family comes every year in anticipation of hunting for the medallion. 

“You can’t find it if you don’t look so we all go out and we all go looking,” he said. “It’s thinking about where it could be. That’s what fun for us. This year it’s a bonus because we needed cash.”

Steve Hesse, fair manager, hides the medallion by himself when no one is around the week before the fair begins. He thought this year it would take at least three days to find.

Dawn Norton said she had a feeling the medallion was near the elephant ears this year. Musicians were playing for those gathered at the Mills Free Stage when the Nortons had their photo taken with an oversized check. 

The 16th annual Crow Wing County Fair Medallion Hunt is sponsored by Mid Minnesota Federal Credit Union and the Brainerd Dispatch.