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Master Gardener Becky Livermore, left, helps Jessica Amundson and her two children, Tanner and Kaiden, decide which category they would enter their pumpkins in at the Beltrami County Fair Wednesday afternoon. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

Beltrami County fair under way; Horticulture Exhibit is open class exhibiting that anyone can enter

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With the summer sun high in the sky and the smell of cheese curds and horses filling the air, the annual Beltrami County Fair began Wednesday.

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The fun-filled fair is scheduled to run through Sunday, Aug. 14.

Along with the typical rodeo, rides and carnival food, exhibits, 4-H competitions and other activities are being held.

One spectacle worth while visiting is the annual Horticulture Exhibit, supervised by Master Gardener and Horticulture Superintendent Jean Mathweg.

"The Horticulture Exhibit is open class exhibiting that anyone can enter," Mathweg said. "The plants include flowers, vegetables, fruits, floral arrangements and herbs."

This year's horticulture theme is "The Wizard of Oz." Entrants fashion their arrangements to match the annual theme. Next year's theme is "That's Hollywood."

Participants entered their flora and fauna Wednesday, with judging to take place today.

General blue, red and white ribbons will be given to the top three presentations.

There are also special awards, such as champion garden exhibit, champion dahlia, best hanging planter, best perennial, best first time entrant, best annual and best herb.

These special category awards are made possible by local donations, and will be decided today. After judging has been completed, the Horticulture Exhibit will be open for public viewing.

Mathweg enjoys the work she does at the exhibit year in and year out.

"It's really fun because we get repeat participants with truckloads of entrants," Mathweg said, "and it really is enjoyable to visit with old friends year after year."

The local group of Master Gardeners is in charge of running the exhibit, and for good reason.

"The requirements to become a Master Gardener are to first take a core course through the University of Minnesota," Mathweg said. "After the class, we are required to complete 25 volunteer hours a year and four continuing education credits.

"Our purpose as Master Gardeners is to educate the public in horticultural practice with university-based research," Mathweg added.

While the Master Gardeners do a lot with informing the public through information obtained from the University of Minnesota, they also do many other things.

"We do demonstrations and presentations around Beltrami County. We sponsor garden tours and we have a hotline." Mathweg said. "We also write articles for the paper."

Compared to past years for the Horticulture Exhibit, it's hard to tell this early how this year's exhibit will turn out.

"It's a little early to tell, but I think it's going to be good, and because the fair is later this year, we get different entrants," Mathweg said.

New this year will be demonstrations for the public on Friday and Saturday.

Friday's demonstration schedule is:

E3-4 p.m.: Trees for Northern Minnesota.

E4-5 p.m.: An Herb Primer.

E5-6 p.m.: Floral Design and Arranging.

Saturday's demonstration schedule includes:

E3-4 p.m.: Why Didn't I Get a Blue Ribbon?

E4-5 p.m.: Garden Ornaments From Old Dishes.

E5-6 p.m.: Beer and Wine Making.

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