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Activities are in full swing at Beltrami County Fair

Judges Colette Zietz and Mary Campbell sample a wild rice entry in the Beltrami County Fair Bake Off Thursday. Today's events at the fair include 4-H poultry, horse and beef shows and 4-H Fashion Review and open draft horse halter classes. The Triple B Rodeo will begin at 7 p.m. in the grandstand arena. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

When the Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival overlapped with the Beltrami County Fair, fair organizers had some concerns about competition for attendance.

They discovered just the opposite - the Dragon Boat Festival brought more people to town, many of whom divided their time between the waterfront and the fairgrounds. Vern Holzhueter said last year, when the two events coincided, an informal survey of the parking lot showed license plates from 31 states and two Canadian provinces.

The animals that are being exhibited at the fair arrived Thursday, and participation by exhibitors is exceptional, Holzhueter said.

"We have full barns, so we're doing good," he said.

The Bake Off also attracted eager competitors.

"We have 45 contestants," said Carla Mandrell, manager of the Bake Off. "We have nine wild rice entries, 13 for blueberries and 24 for chocolate. We had an awesome response."

"The first year there were three entries in each one, something like that," said Charlie Benson, a Bake Off spectator.

Mandrell said the food would be shared with the audience after the markings of the judges.

In the dairy and beef barns, cattle rested comfortably on their straw beds. Exhibitors gave baaing sheep their show trims and goats stood on their hind legs vying for the attention of visitors in the sheep and goat barns. The rabbits dozed in their cages and the chickens made a cacophony in the poultry section.

Pat Olson's Boaris III has his boar pen in the swine barn where his grandfather once held pride of place. And youngsters brushed and washed their barrows and gilts for the show ring.

In the horse barn stalls, mighty Percherons and Belgians kept to their tie-ups on the south side and the saddle horses watched passersby from their stalls on the north. Wendell Knutson taught his great-granddaughter, Lauren Yerbich, 7, of Haver, Mont., to drive his team, Belgian draft mares Molly and Dot, to give fairgoers rides around the grounds.

And a steady stream of people climbed the Pinewood Fire Tower to get a high rise view of the fairgrounds.

"Last night, the line was out to Heritage Square," said David Quam, who organized the fire tower installation at the fairgrounds.

He said that at 9 p.m., adults who want to take photos of the lights of the Gopher State Midway can climb the stairs for the view.

Quam said he is raising funds for the next stage of the fire tower attraction, a Department of Natural Resources history exhibit and a Smokey Bear Store where people can buy souvenir items. He hopes to make the facility a three-season building for use outside fair time.

Wild Rice

First place: Kimberly Fraser, Wild Rice Stuffed Tomatoes. Prize: $50 gift certificate from Joel Rohde and Red Lake Nations Foods.

Second: Inger Benson, Pecan Cranberry Wild Rice Salad.

Third: Valarie Allen, Wild Rice Extraordinaire.


First place: Beth Schoenfelder, Blueberry Cream Tarts. Prize: $50 from Jeanette Proulx and Minnesota Nice Cafe'.

Second (tie): Terra Nichols, Bemidji Blueberry Cake; Adele Jacobson, Blueberry Crumble.

Third: Valarie Allen, Blueberry Overload.

Make it with Chocolate

First place: Pei-Lin Liew, Sabl'es Korova (Korova Cookies/Paris Sweets). Prize: $25 gift certificate from Janel Hart and Chocolates Plus and a box of chocolates.

Second: Inger Benson, Chocolate Mystery Cake. Prize: $10 Chocolates Plus gift certificate.

Third: Matthew Schoenfelder, Chocolate Mousse Layered Cake. Prize: $10 Chocolates Plus gift certificate.