BEMIDJI - Improvements to the Marilyn Shutter Country Stage will provide a little something extra for the performers and musicians this year at the Beltrami County Fair.

After 11 years of struggling with an aging tent and a lack of storage space behind the stage, Fair Board members decided a change was needed. The funding for the building comes after Fair Board member Beryl Wernberg applied for a grant to improve the inadequate space. A new wooden building has been set up behind the Marilyn Shutter Country Stage at the Beltrami County Fairgrounds to replace the old set up.

The yearlong process is now in the end stages, as Fair Board member Keith Winger is putting on the final touches to the new building. The 22-by-12 building’s exterior matches well with the existing stage, Winger said. Inside the building there will be air conditioning, heat, two dressing rooms and storage space for instruments and personal belongings. Winger thinks the new addition will be easier and more comfortable for performers.

“They will be able to sit in there and practice if they want -- it's a really nice addition,” Winger said.

Along with the addition of the new building, Winger is also excited to see the impact of last year’s sound booth renovation on this year's performances. Changes to the sound booth include a wall behind the booth to protect from the elements and a cover to lock up equipment at night.

“Our sound man has sat there exposed to the elements for the last several years -- If it rained the rain hit him and his equipment, and if the sun was shining it nearly burned him out of there,” said Winger. “It really will secure his stuff from the elements or vandalism and theft.”

Not only will fair performers benefit from the new building, but anyone who rents the stage at the fairgrounds can use it as well. Weddings, family reunions and other events can all take place on the stage and in its surrounding space. This year, a vendor booth was also created to provide musicians and performers with the opportunity to sell their own merchandise throughout the fair week Winger said.

The 2019 Beltrami County Fair will be held from Aug. 7 to 11. A variety of events will take place on the Marilyn Shutter Country Stage including live music, worship service, music jam sessions, 4-H awards and a Kids' Talent Show.

Wednesday night’s talent show starts at 6 p.m., Aug. 7. There is no pre-registration necessary and Winger said that children with talents of any kind are welcome. Children in kindergarten through 12th grade should show up 15 minutes before the show starts to get signed up to perform.

A full schedule of performers on the Marilyn Shutter Country Stage can be found at https://beltramicountyfair.org/Stage.html