About 26,500 people attended the 2012 Mille Lacs County Fair.
That’s the word from Judy Gerth, fair manager and secretary.
The fair had manufactured 500 more buttons than for the 2011 fair. Those buttons had sold out by about 6 p.m. Saturday, resulting in the fair board placing stickers on buttons from previous years.
Sometimes it seemed like the attendance was higher on certain days than last year and then there were times when she wasn’t sure, she said on Monday.
This is Gerth’s last year in the county fair job, as she is retiring this coming Oct. 25, after serving on the fair board for 23 years. The board is replacing her position with a two-part arrangement. It will consist of a hired county fair office administrator, and also a secretary, who will be a fair board member elected from within the board.
The fair board recently hired Darla Manke, Princeton, to become the fair office administrator, effective Nov. 1. She has already been job shadowing Gerth since Aug. 7, when Gerth was preparing for the fair.
Longtime fair board members Steve Ouverson and Helene Peetz have also just retired from the fair board.
Another successful fair
Gerth and fellow board members Terry Ash and Frank Hartmann (board president) agreed, on Monday, that the fair was successful as they talked about the bands, the tractor/truck pull, the demo derby, the first-time visit by Princess Kay of the Milky Way, the exhibits and more.
Ash reported no complaints from people about the demolition derby, which he said had approximately 44 vehicles in the mix. He mentioned how, at one point in the derby, two siblings put on a show when one assisted in getting the other’s vehicle unstuck from a wall. Then the two banged their cars together to continue the competition, Ash said.
Ash was also pleased about the new chairs beneath the tent at the band shell. He noted that the Princeton Jaycees and the Mystic Riders Snowmobile Club donated some of their pull-tab gambling revenue to help buy the new chairs.
Ash added that he hopes the fair board can someday soon get the funds to construct a tall roof to replace the setup of the concrete slab in front of a band shell because of the lack of shade there now.
The fair board would also like to replace the small FFA building, replace the roof on the 4-H building and add a covered front to the outside of the 4-H food concession, he noted.
Usually there is something that doesn’t turn out as planned at a fair, and this time there was a partial show for the scheduled cultural dance by the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. The dancers didn’t appear, just the Ojibwe drummers and singers, who performed in a circle atop the band shell stage about 30 feet away from the audience.
An organizer of the event explained that the Ojibwe dancers were heading to an appointment at Grand Portage in northeastern Minnesota. But the drummers and singers went out of their way to come down from Mille Lacs Lake to keep up their part of the schedule and still had to head to Grand Portage, said Susan Shaw who was assisting at the fair.
Ash noted that the National Guard representatives were not at the fair as had been hoped. He explained that their unit, based in Cambridge, is preparing for active duty in Afghanistan.
But the fair events went well overall, said Gerth, stating that the fine weather for most of the fair, helped.
The midway concessions and rides put on by Stipe Shows did well, and many businesses/organizations in the commercial building reported having good responses, Gerth said.
Deb Bistodeau, organizer of the fair’s annual fiddle contest, said that participants came from as far away as Texas, North Dakota, Duluth and Grand Rapids, and was well attended. She said this fiddle contest has the top cash prize ($500) for champion in the open division in all of Minnesota. The money prizes really encourage the young fiddlers to continue, Bistodeau said.
The following are the results of various competitions at the fair:
Talent contest –
• Preteen division (12 and under) – Izabel Larsen winner for her singing of “Don’t Rain On My Parade.” Brigitte Neumann was second with a jazz dance.
• Teen division (ages 13-18) – Molly Savage won with her singing of “White Horse.” Dana Neumann placing second with a dance.
• Open division – Helena Nelson won with a hula hoop act. Mikayla Olson placed second, playing “Stairway to Heaven” on guitar.
Demolition derby –
The winners were Nick Novitsky in the compact division, Amanda Adams in chain, Chris Gray in truck, and Gary Mudgett in welded stock.
Tractor/truck pull –
• 3,750 lb. farm stock – Wade Holister with a Farmall H
• 4,500 lb. antique –Joel Embertson with a 1938 John Deere A
• 5,000 lb. stock – Kurt Johnson with a Minneapolis Moline UTS
• 6,500 lb. antique – Randy Jennessin with a John Deere G
• 7,000 lb. farm stock – Ben Kohnen
• 9,000 lb. farm stock – Ben Kohnen with an IH 966
• 10,000 lb. farm stock – George Weidendorf with an IH 1066
• 11,000 lb. hobby stock – No winner listed but Bob Dillon pulled 315 feet, 10 inches with a Farmall 1206.
• 12,000 lb. farm stock – Dan Kohnen with an IH 1566
• 16,500 lb. farm stock – John Swanson with a John Deere 4455
• 18,000 lb. farm stock – Dan Kohnen with an IH 1466
• 18,000 lb. plus exhibition – Mitch Santema with a Cat 765
• Street diesel – Jeffrey Mifek with a 2008 Dodge Ram 2500
• 7500 open – No winner listed but Troy Turek pulled a distance of 263 feet and four inches.
Kids pedal tractor pull –
Age 4 – Wyatt Tilly
Age 5 – Michelle Reynolds
Age 6 – Justyce Ohlren
Age 7 – Peyton Hunt
Age 8 – Evan Schimming
Age 9 – Ethan Warren
Age 10 – Shane Thompson
Age 11 – Michael Stichter
Teen – Nicholas Kroth
Fiddle contest winners –
Open division – Maddy Brown
Junior-junior (ages 9 and under) – Madeline Beckwith
Junior (ages 10-12) – Angela Quanbeck
Young adult (ages 13-19) – Kaitlin Skaja
Adult/Senior (ages 20-110) – Brian Farley
Twin division (all ages) Claire Sayes