From the famous Leader pig races to exotic animals to the thrilling carnival rides, which will be newer and cleaner this year — all the traditional attractions a county fair offers — the Crow Wing County Fair is preparing to offer spectators a fabulously good time.
The fair opens Tuesday and runs through Aug. 4 at the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds, located on 13th Street Southeast in Brainerd.
County fair general manager JD Grimsley said the friendly, family-oriented fair — which is one of the top county fairs in the state — will again be a free fair. Grimsley said the fair will offer new events this year, as well as bringing back the old, traditional events that are enjoyed by many fair-goers.
One of the biggest things that is new this year, Grimsley said is the fair hired a different company for the carnival rides. The rides will be put on by the Todd Armstrong Show. Grimsley said the rides are expected to be cleaner and more updated and be more similar to state fair level rides.
According to the Todd Armstrong Show website, the company provides a vast variety of thrill rides such as the Super Shot and Himalaya, along with family favorites such as the Gondola Wheel and Tilt-A-Whirl, plus a complete kiddy land with rides like the Carousel and Circus Train.
The carnival runs from noon to 5 p.m. each day of the fair; expect Tuesday it opens at 1 p.m. and on Aug. 4 it runs from noon to 5 p.m. and then from 7-11 p.m.
Each year the fair offers different entertainment, and this year the fair is bringing back the pig races from Leader. Shows will be at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Friday and Aug. 4.
“The pig races draw a lot of people,” said Grimsley.
The show not only offers pig races, but also adult and children games that are put on in-between the races, such as adults riding the large inflatable horses and the children having sack races and Hula Hoop contests.
With the new Curling Club Arena at the county fairgrounds, Grimsley said that the building will host “Arts in the Northland Stage.” The arena will be filled with various arts from oil paintings and rosemaling, watercolor, Asian brush painting and more.
A company called [filtered word]-A-Doodle Zoo will show about 30 exotic animals at the fair. The mission of the company is to teach the public about planetary, sustainability and conservation with the use of unique animal encounters.
The fair again will host the Mutton Bustin event where children ages 4-7, who weigh less than 55 pounds with clothes on will be able to ride sheep. The championships will be held again during intermission of the bull riding event Saturday, Aug. 4, in the grandstand.
And don’t forget about the annual medallion hunt, where the individual who finds the medallion will win $1,000. The hunt is sponsored by Mid Minnesota Federal Credit Union and the Brainerd Dispatch.
Grimsley said fair organizers expect between 80,000 to 100,000 people to go through the five-day fair. Grimsley said it will be nice for the public to see all the improvements of the fairgrounds, including cement slabs with picnic tables at all the food vendor spots that are handicapped accessible.
Grandstand events with pit gates opening at 4 p.m. and shows beginning at 7 p.m.; and entertainment on the Mills free stage by day includes:
➤ Tuesday, Military Day: Demolition Derby in grandstand; and Norman’s Bait and Tackle perform from 1-4:30 p.m. and Roe Family Singers from 6-10 p.m. on free stage.
➤ Wednesday, Senior Day: Moto Cross; Polka Beats, 1-4:30 p.m. and Alan Godage Band, 6-10 p.m.
➤ Thursday, Agriculture Day: Baja Rally Races; Amber Waves Band, 1-3:30 p.m. and The Redwood Band, 6-10 p.m.
➤ Friday, Teen Day: Baja Rally Races; teen dance from 7-10 p.m. Friday also is the talent contest with the pre-teen contest at 1 p.m., teen talent contest at 3 p.m. and open class talent contest at 5 p.m.
➤ Saturday, Kids Day: Extreme Bull Riding; Ray’s Promenaders, 4:30-6 p.m. and Chmielewski Funtime Band, 7-10 p.m.