Crow Wing County Fair opens Tuesday: Traditional fun with a mix of new

Road construction has been bursting at the seams in Brainerd-Baxter this summer, bringing challenges to motorists trying to get to their destinations.

Michelle Moritz paints a booth Thursday, July 26, at the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds to get ready for the fair opening Tuesday. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
Michelle Moritz paints a booth Thursday, July 26, at the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds to get ready for the fair opening Tuesday. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Road construction has been bursting at the seams in Brainerd-Baxter this summer, bringing challenges to motorists trying to get to their destinations.

Construction will bring yet one more challenge to motorists-motorists traveling to the Crow Wing County Fair this coming week. The annual county fair opens Tuesday, July 31, and runs daily through Saturday, Aug. 4, at the county fairgrounds on Southeast 13th Street in Brainerd.

People will not be able to park along Southeast 13th Street near the fairgrounds this year due to South Sixth Street construction as traffic is detoured to 13th Street. The portion closed for parking will be from the intersection of Thiesse Road and County Road 117, near the Pepsi-Cola plant, north to Willow Street where St. Andrew's Catholic Church sits.

"People should know ahead of time before they leave the house so they can make alternate plans on where to park," Gary Doucette, manager of the county fair, said. "It will be enforced by law enforcement. I don't want anyone to get a ticket and be frustrated. I know it will be a challenge to find parking. I encourage people to pay $3 to park in our south parking lot."

There is no admission fee to get into the county fair, and it is one of Doucette's goals to keep it a free fair. Doucette said the parking fees help defray costs in maintaining the county fairgrounds.


"We will continue to have a free fair and we want to keep it that way," Doucette said. "I want everyone to be safe."

In past years, fairgoers have lined the streets of Southeast 13th Street and other streets around the fair to avoid paying the $3 parking fee. There is plenty of parking in the fairgrounds for people to park safely, Doucette said, and this year it may make sense for people to use the designated parking area to avoid parking on city streets and walking a distance to the fair.

In with the old and new

Once people are inside the gates of the county fair there will be all the traditional sights, smells and sounds of activities to keep people happy, Doucette said. The county fair will continue to offer all its original activities, such as the Mutton Bustin', during which children under 7 years old ride a sheep until they fall off. The qualifying round takes place 3-4 p.m. Tuesday, and the Top 10 go to the championships that night during the bull riding event.

All the grandstand events begin at 7 p.m. at the fairgrounds. Events are the "Dirt Kickin' Wicked Good" Bull Riding, Tuesday; Monster Trucks and Quad Show, Wednesday; Motocross, Thursday; and Baja Rally Races, Friday-Saturday, Aug. 3-4. Also in the grandstands is the tractor driving contest at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 4.

Free entertainment will once again hit the Mills Free Stage daily with a variety of music. Many food and beverage vendors will offer county fair favorites, such as cheese curds, corn dogs, mini doughnuts, milkshakes, cotton candy and the famous Honey Bee sundaes. Several nonprofit groups also return, including the Brainerd Elks Lodge offering a menu of items served by Brainerd High School band students; the Brainerd Fire Department with brats; and monster ears served by the Crow Wing Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol.

And of course, a county fair would not be a county fair if it didn't have animals. The buildings will be filled with horses, rabbits, poultry, cattle, sheep, swine and goats. Shows are scheduled daily as 4-Hers show their animals.

There are new events for people to look forward to, as well. New this year at the fair is KnockerBall. KnockerBall is a single-chamber inflatable bubble with inner handles and adjustable shoulder straps, according to its website.


"Everyone is excited for KnockerBall," Doucette said. "You crawl into this ball, like a sumo wrestler. If you have a couple of brothers or sisters and you want to take your aggressions out on each other, this is the perfect place to do it at the fairgrounds."

White Tiger Discover, an education and outreach exhibit, is also new to the fair. The exhibit features hands-on, interactive programs with a goal to promote and excite people on conservation issues involving the last five remaining species of the tigers in the wild.

According to White Tiger Discovery, as outlined in the county fair handbook, the royal white tiger has been extinct from the wild since 1958, but in 2010, India started a program to re-introduce the tigers back into the wild. The first white tiger that came to the United States was in 1960, and was presented to President Dwight D. Eisenhower at the White House and then went to the Smithsonian's National Zoo as a gift from India.

Currently there are fewer than 60 of these animals on exhibit in large-scale zoos in the United States, and it is believed just over 400 are in captivity in the world.

"I look forward to see what this exhibit has to offer," Doucette said.

Doucette said each year he still enjoys all the traditional events at the county fair.
"What can I say, I am a motorhead. My favorites are four wheels and a loud engine. I am an old man with young thoughts. I like to see the big tires, doing the climbing. I haven't grown up yet. (Monster trucks are) one of my favorites."

Doucette said the motocross is always fun to watch and said many people-from Crow Wing, Cass, Aitkin and Morrison counties-come to watch the Baja Rally Races. Doucette said most people know someone who is racing so the grandstands will be full both nights.

"Everyone will have a good time out at the fair," Doucette said. "I'm always pooped when it's all done with all the challenges to make sure every piece of the puzzle fits. But the county fair is always so enjoyable."


The Crow Wing County Fair is the fifth largest county fair in the state. Doucette estimates 80,000 people come through the gates from all over the lakes area and beyond, including from the East Coast and other states.

Going green

Outside of fair activities, an item of note fairgoers may not notice, but is important to fair organizers, is the fair is working on going green. Doucette said the fair board received a $15,000 grant from the Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District to begin the process for the fairgrounds to go green.

"I have been managing the fair for three years now and I was president of the board before that and it has always been a dream of mine for the fair to go green," Doucette said.

With the grant money, the board purchased three 2,000-gallon polyethylene tanks to hold the rainwater the fair can reuse for multiple things, such as washing the animals or equipment or filling its fire trucks. Doucette said staff may use the rainwater instead of groundwater, which is one way for the fair to be more green.

"We're also pushing harder in trying to create a recycle program by saving all plastics and papers and recycling it," Doucette said. "We create quite a bit of product that ends up in the landfill and we're trying to reduce that. We are trying to lead by example. We have done this in the past, but are pushing it harder. Everyone is getting tired of me hounding people about recycling. We're trying to save everything we can to reduce products to the landfill."

The fair board is replacing the old lights in the building with more energy-efficient lighting. Doucette said this will reduce the cost to light the buildings and also provide better lighting.

For more information on scheduled events of the fair go to .


Fair day/highlights

• Tuesday, July 31-Military Day: Opening ceremonies at 5:30 p.m. with parade of colors.

• Wednesday, Aug. 1-Senior Day: Great Northern Model-T Club and Old Homestead Power Tractor Club parade, 10:30 a.m., and Outstanding Senior Citizens recognition at noon.

• Thursday, Aug. 2-Agriculture Day: Century Farms and agricultural recognition, 11 a.m., and 4 p.m. Kids Pedal Pull.

• Friday, Aug. 3-Teen Day and Talent Contest: 4-H livestock awards program, 6 p.m.

• Saturday, Aug. 4-Kids Day: Home Depot workshop for kids, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; dig for nickels, 10:30 a.m.; Veggie Derby, 11:30 a.m.; antique tractor parade, noon; minnow races, 1:30 p.m.; Miss Brainerd Lakes Princess, 2 p.m.; 4-H Dog Exhibition, 3 p.m.

Mills Free Stage

• Tuesday: 1-3:30 p.m.,Oak Street Chapel Band; 6-10 p.m., Sherwin Linton Band.


• Wednesday: 1-4:30 p.m., Vern Bishop & Moose River Band; 6-10 p.m., Alan Godage Band.

• Thursday: 1-3:30 p.m., Red Bull Band; 6-10 p.m., Steele River Band.

• Friday: 11 a.m., pre-teen talent contest; 1 p.m., teen talent contest; 3 p.m., open class talent; 7-10 p.m., Solo Band.

• Saturday: 4:30-6 p.m., Ray's Promenaders; 7-10 p.m., The 70s Magic Sunshine Band.

7 p.m. Grandstand events

• Tuesday: "Dirt Kickin' Wicked Good" Bull Riding.

• Wednesday: Monster Trucks and Quad Show.

• Thursday: Motocross.


• Friday: Baja Rally Races.

• Saturday: Baja Rally Races.

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