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Fair time arrives for Hettinger, Bowman, McKenzie counties

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Travel north or south of Dickinson this weekend and you'll head to a fair.

Bowman, Hettinger and McKenzie counties hold their fairs beginning today and Thursday and going through Saturday or Sunday, depending on the fair.

The big draws at the McKenzie County Fair in Watford City are the traditional events, said fair board secretary/treasurer Eva Hepper.

The demolition derby Friday and NDRA rodeo Saturday see the most people, although there are events starting today with 4-H Club event entry and judging, according to the schedule of events.

But the fair officially kicks off with a parade down Main Street in Watford City followed by a free beef barbecue, Hepper said. There will be events all day Thursday, starting at 8 a.m. with the entry of open class exhibits.

The McKenzie County Fair Board contracted a carnival from a new company this year and has high hopes for the midway, Hepper said.

"We're pretty excited about it," she said. "It's so hard to get a carnival at these small fairs."

In the past few years, the fair has drawn many newcomers to the area looking for some weekend recreation, Hepper said.

"People that have never been to a rodeo (attended in the recent past)," she said. "That's what makes it exciting for them, because they have never been to one, and they were just amazed. And like the dance after the rodeo -- they had never danced in the dirt."

The culinary draw to the McKenzie County Fair is the homemade pie and ice cream stand run by Wesleyan church youth group.

"That's a huge draw," Hepper said. "They do very well with that."

The 4-H Club in Hettinger County is running a barbecue fundraiser for the first time this year, said Duaine Marxen, North Dakota State University Extension agent for Hettinger County.

Marxen began as extension agent Feb. 1 after four and a half years as an extension agent in eastern South Dakota. He was also active in 4-H Club growing up in Pipestone, Minn., and plans to bring some traditions from those areas to Mott.

"It was always a tradition for our achievement days down there to go ahead and do this barbecue," he said. "It was so successful there we're gonna go ahead and try it here."

There are several non-4-H events including a demo derby, Northern Outlaw Wrestling and concerts including Blackhawk, Rhyme or Reason and Hebron-native Gwen Sebastian, who recently found national fame on NBC's "The Voice."

She will perform Saturday in Mott, as will Johnny Green and the Greenmen. Blackhawk and Rhyme or Reason are performing on a double bill Friday night.

If waiting until Saturday to hear Sebastian doesn't sound desirable, head to Bowman on Friday night. That's where she will be performing at the Bowman County Fair after Kahuna Beach Party.

"It's kind of nice to have someone from your own state come and perform at your fair," said fair board treasurer Anita McLaughlin.

Former bull rider Justin McBride will perform in Bowman on Saturday evening, McLaughlin said.

There will be 4-H exhibits and livestock shows and sales at the fair, which does not include a carnival. There are a few inflatable games to "get them out of their parents' hair," she said.

Other events include two rodeos and a demo derby, McLaughlin said. There is a wrist band available that allows for entry into the two concerts, two rodeos and demo derby at more than half the price of individual admissions.

For complete schedules of area weekend fairs, visit:

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
(701) 456-1206