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Fair focuses on adding family-friendly events

Posted 6/21/16 (Tue)

Fair focuses on adding family-friendly events

By Carrie Sandstrom
Morgan Ames grew up doing the 4-H horse show at the Divide County Fair. At the time, she said it was one of the few events geared specifically toward kids. 
This year, her daughter, Annali also competed in the 4-H Horse Show at the annual Divide County Fair, which took place this past week. On Sunday, Ames spent the morning helping her daughter compete in the Youth Ranch Rodeo. 
Annali and her three teammates were all in the same class this past year. Their team, Crystals and Pistols, competed with stick horses in the 0-7 age group, completing tasks like roping a steer made out of PVC pipe and racing to see who can get their boots on first. 
The team took second for their age group, winning themselves duffle bags, while the winning team for the age group, the Wild Riders, was presented with belt buckles.
The Youth Ranch Rodeo competition, where kids ranging from 0 to 18 years of age were able to participate, was followed by the adult Ranch Rodeo, where Fork U Cattle Co. took home first place.
“Before, all they had was the 4-H show,” Ames said. “Now, there’s so much for the kids.”
Melissa Adams is the president of the fair board. She grew up coming to the Divide County Fair, but moved to Fargo when she got older and spent 17 years there before moving back to the area.
“I wanted to raise my kids in a smaller community and near family,” Adams said. “The county fair is a part of that.”
Of the weekend’s roughly 20 events, many were geared toward kids, including bouncy castles that were set up throughout the weekend. In addition to the Youth Ranch Rodeo, the fair also had a youth mud run following the adult heat of the course on Saturday. On Friday night there was a dance for teens.
After Friday night’s Bull-o-Rama, there was a youth mutton busting for kids weighing less than 65 pounds. Adams said they were hoping for at least 10 kids to participate in the event. Twenty signed up.
On Saturday morning, kids, some still in strollers, lined the streets of the fair parade holding bags and buckets to collect their candy. Older kids shared some of their sweets with younger ones who weren’t quite quick enough to gather their own.
“We try to focus on the kids because to me that’s what the county fair is about,” Adams said.
Andrea Nygaard remembers coming to the fair with her family after they moved to Crosby from Grand Forks when she was 13. 
Her stepfather built a go cart for the kids and they entered it into the county fair parade. They used a motor from an auger and the plywood seat could sit three kids across. At the time, the fair still charged an admission fee as people entered through the main gate. This year, she rode in the parade with her 11-month-old daughter, who assisted her in throwing candy to the bystanders from a fire truck.
She can’t imagine Divide County without a fair.
“It’s where we gather as a community . . . we’re all so busy now, we don’t take time to walk down the block and talk to a neighbor.”
Jean DeJardine, a Crosby native, remembers the county fair of her childhood, when the fair rides were bigger. For her, the fair is just a fact of life. Now that she has kids, she says she appreciates the added youth events. 
This year, they took time to enjoy the food on the fairgrounds after the parade, and they stopped to look at the cows and other animals on the west side of the fair grounds.  
Adams said a livestock committee, one of the many groups that helps make the fair possible, has been working to involve animals in the fair, including holding clinics with the 4-H groups to help them learn about showing animals. 
Adams said the goal of these clinics is to help kids feel more comfortable doing things like showing animals and to build their interest for it.
“We always, every year, try to provide at least as good of entertainment as the last year,” Adams said. 
“And we hope every year to keep improving.”