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Shows, games, exhibits, food: It’s the event with everything

File photo Plan to attend the East Otter Tail County Fair next week, July 25-28, in Perham.

Nothing says summertime like a county fair.

The rides, the food, the games, the animals, the shows, the exhibits, the excitement – the fair has it all.

Plan to bring the whole family out to the East Otter Tail County Fair next week, July 25-28, in Perham.

Some of this year’s main attractions will include chainsaw carving, a tractor pull, a demo derby, a talent competition, and performances by The Brothers Burn Mountain (a duo from Duluth) and country music legend Sherwin Linton.

New features this year will include live bird shows by the Minnesota Raptor Center on Saturday and All-American Lumberjack Shows on Sunday.

“We just keep adding different things every year,” said Diane Sazama, secretary of the fair board.

There will also be a brand new livestock building this year, which Sazama said “people should come out and see,” as well as new paint, display cases and other upgrades at the main exhibit building.

As always, the midway will be lit up with rides and carnival games for all ages, as well as food vendors to satisfy any craving. The Children’s Barn will be full of animals for the kids to see and pet, and the exhibit buildings will be packed with artwork, handmade blankets and clothes, canned goods, homegrown flowers and edibles, and much more.

FFA and 4-H livestock shows will be ongoing throughout the fair. New this year will be an Open Poultry Show. Open Class registration will take place next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Special deals and days will include Military and Veterans Day on Thursday (Thursday also offers the only “wristband night,” from 6-10 p.m.), Senior Citizen’s Day on Friday, Kid’s Day on Saturday, and Family Day on Sunday.

There is no entry fee to get into the fair, and most events are free to attend (other than the grandstand events, such as the tractor pull and demo derby). The cost to park on the grounds is $2 per car.


Activities will kick off next Thursday with animal weigh-ins and Open Class Exhibit judging in the morning. The exhibit building will open at 11 a.m., at which time there will be a flag raising ceremony by area VFWs and Boy Scout troops.

A farmer’s market will display and sell goods in the bingo shelter from noon to 4 p.m., and chainsaw carver Charlie Kirchenwitz will be demonstrating his skills from 2-3:30 p.m. in the park.

Those interested in learning how to control weeds in their gardens can attend a class by Kathy Connell of Redfern Gardens in the bingo shelter from 12:30-1 p.m. A puppetry presentation and workshop will be held in the bingo shelter from 2-4 p.m., led by Margo McCreary. McCreary will follow that up with a puppet making workshop from 4-5 p.m. These and other classes are made possible through a partnership with the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center.

The carnival will open at 5 p.m. Cow Pie Bingo will start at 6:30 p.m., with regular bingo from 7-11 p.m. There will also be an Open Mic Night in the park, from 6-8 p.m.

Starting at 8:30 p.m. and continuing on until 12:30 a.m. will be a performance in the beer garden by Willie and The Poor Boys, along with a bean bag tournament, beer pong and “silly Olympics.”


A 4-H county fair scavenger hunt will start things off Friday from 9:30-11:30 a.m. Chainsaw carver Charlie Kirchenwitz will give hour-long demos starting at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. The farmer’s market will be open in the bingo shelter from noon to 2 p.m. The carnival will open at 1 p.m., at which time senior citizen’s events will take place in the park.

Kathy Connell will again be offering a gardening class, this time on “Controlling Pests/Disease.” It will run from 12:30-1 p.m. in the bingo shelter. Later in the shelter, at 5 p.m., will be an hour-long Mexican food cooking class.

Square dancers can get their kicks with Battle Lakes Pairs and Squares in the park from 4-5:30 p.m., while fans of tractor pulls won’t want to miss the antique pulls starting at 5 p.m. The modified pulls start later, at 7 p.m.

Sherwin and Pam Linton will perform in the park at 6 p.m., with the six-piece Mexican Conjunto Band Los Diamantes taking the stage at 7:30 p.m.

Bingo will be ongoing from 7-11 p.m. Beer pong and frozen T-shirt contests will be held at the beer garden starting at 8:30 p.m., while Willie and the Poor Boys provide the tunes.

-Sherwin and Pam Linton-

The iconic Sherwin Linton, famous for his gravelly voice, humorous songs and Johnny Cash tributes, has a long and rich history in the country music business. As a kid, he made his first guitar out of a cigar box and a yardstick, and by age 16 he had his own radio show.

He gained fame in 1966 with his hit song, “Cotton King,” and after that started touring and making regular appearances on TV.

In 1975, Linton’s record “When She Cries” won an award for Single of the Year. And his mid-‘70s tribute, “Hello, I’m Not Johnny Cash,” was a hit with everyone, including Johnny Cash himself, who was a friend of Linton’s. In 1986, Linton wrote and recorded a major Christmas hit, “Santa Got A DWI,” which is still a radio favorite around the holidays.

In recent years, Linton has been inducted into the South Dakota Musicians Hall of Fame, the National Traditional Country Music Hall Of Fame, and the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame.

Despite usually playing more than 250 dates a year, he hasn’t missed a gig in 50 years, earning him a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Today, he is still singing the songs of Elvis, Marty Robbins, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and Johnny Cash, along with many of his own hits and originals, plus a variety of traditional country, folk, gospel and cowboy songs.

He will be joined at the fair by his wife, Pam, a native of St. Stephen, Minn., known for her soulful vocals. In 2002, she was inducted into the National Traditional Country Music Hall of Fame.

The Lintons will perform four times during the fair – on Friday evening at a “Supper with Sherwin and Pam Linton” event in the park at 6 p.m., and again on Saturday at 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. (also in the park area).

Performances are open to all fair-goers, at no additional cost.


All day long Saturday, the Minnesota Bird Education Center will be set up at the park, with raptor center programs featuring live birds at 11 a.m. and noon. Bird art activities will immediately follow in the park until 2 p.m.

The carnival will open at noon.

Scheduled events get underway that morning at 8 a.m. with a horse show, followed by a dairy recognition program and livestock auction at 10 a.m. Chainsaw carver Charlie Kirchenwitz will return again to give more demos at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., and Sherwin and Pam Linton will perform in the park at 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Kathy Connell will teach gardeners how to compost in a half-hour class at the bingo shelter at 12:30 p.m., and Kent Sheer will host a toymaking session in the main exhibit building at 1 p.m. Following that at 1:30 p.m. will be a class on cooking with fresh produce, at the bingo shelter. The shelter will also be the site of classes on drawing for kids and spool knitting, both starting at 3 p.m. After those classes, at 4:30 p.m. will be an opportunity to “Learn to Knit with Sit N’ Stitch.”

A state-sanctioned kid’s tractor pull will be held at 5 p.m.

The always popular demo derby will begin at 7 p.m., while The Brothers Burn Mountain perform on the free stage in the park from 7:30-8:30 p.m. For the remainder of the night, the Electric Feel Band will perform at the beer garden.


On the fair’s final day, a free-will offering pancake breakfast will be served from 8 a.m. to noon. The carnival will open at 1 p.m.

A talent competition will start at noon at the free stage in the park. There will be preteen and teen divisions, and a third division open to all ages and groups. The top prize in each division is $50, with the winners eligible for the Minnesota State Fair Talent Competition.

At 2 p.m., and again at 4 p.m., will be the All-American Lumberjack Show.

Events will conclude with a 4-H Awards Program at 5 p.m.

Marie Johnson

Marie Johnson joined the Detroit Lakes Tribune in November 2017 after several years of writing and editing at the Perham Focus. She lives in rural Frazee with her husband, Dan, their young son and daughter, and their yellow Lab.

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