by Paul Rignell
As the heat index pushed 100 degrees at the Sherburne County Fair, 4-H youth tried to keep themselves cool and their animals cooler as livestock shows began July 18 at the 125th annual event in Elk River.
Ruth Krisko, 12, of Becker, and her sister, Katie, 10, took turns in cooling and cleaning their farm family’s llamas, named “Pablo” and “Pedro,” by using a hose and spigot inside of a gate off of Joplin Street.
The girls soon left the area with the llamas for an appointment that was part of their judging, which includes three showings that focus on skills such as public relations and showmanship.
Joined by their parents, Dean and Laurie Krisko, the sisters also show horses at the county fair.
With temperatures expected to come down in time for action on the weekend, Sherburne County Fair officials said they are expecting a good year for the celebratory event.
For the Kriskos, they wouldn’t want to be anywhere else this weekend. Dean and Laurie Krisko bought the land where they would raise their family just a year after Ruth was born. Farm living was new for both of the parents.
“We didn’t want to live in town,” Dean Krisko said. “We wanted a place where (Ruth and Katie) could run around and be kids.”
The parents’ support of the girls’ 4-H activities through their Happy Hoofbeats club, including photography and fine arts for both sisters, has given all in their household an opportunity to develop new friendships. Being active through 4-H has given them a community.
“Living on a farm, we don’t have close neighbors,” Laurie Krisko noted.
Planning for the county fair is a major part of each year for them.
“It definitely promotes teamwork and competition,” Laurie Krisko added, “and how to lose (gracefully).”
The family planned to be at the fair for much of this weekend. Toward the end, on Sunday afternoon, Dean Krisko will be cheered by his wife and daughters as he competes with a team of his colleagues from Monticello CentraCare EMS in annual donkey races in the grandstand. Each participant rides on one donkey. Dean Krisko said he expected other teams, returning from last year, will represent both the Big Lake and Elk River fire departments along with the defending champion, Marines from a recruitment office in Buffalo.
Youth roaming the fair on its first day for 2013, if they were not grooming or showing animals, were often around to support siblings with animals.
Isabella Wilson, 17, and her brother, Luke, 10, of Zimmerman, were walking with a group of friends between rides and food stands while another Wilson sister, Sophia, age 14, was elsewhere on the grounds with a horse that she is showing.
One of the family friends, Jacob Bauer, 15, said that their favorite fair foods include corn dogs, cheese curds and popcorn chicken. Certainly, Jacob and most of the group would not have eaten too much of that before boarding the carnival’s “Tornado” ride, which spins at high speeds up in the air. But, actually, they had finished some curds and French fries for the day.
“I feel a little dizzy,” Jacob said, after exiting the “Tornado.”
Other attractions include an area where those Marine recruiters from Buffalo are challenging men and women, age 14 and up, to a feat of strength and stamina. If a man or male teen can grab a metal bar, hanging 8 feet up from the ground, and perform 25 pull-ups in succession, they will receive a T-shirt.
For adult and young women, the Marines will award a T-shirt to those who can hang with their chin over the bar for a time of 1 minute, 30 seconds.
Isabella Wilson said that she won a T-shirt there in 2012. She said she was considering a return to the challenge, and that she expected to see much more of the fair by the fourth and final day.
“We kind of check out everything,” she said.
Fun continues at the Sherburne County Fair with music and other entertainment July 20 and 21. Gate hours are 7 a.m. to midnight Saturday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. General admission is $3 for most youth and adults. Children ages 5 and younger are admitted free. Any military members with proper ID, too, are admitted free.
Extra admission is charged for the grandstand events including a truck and tractor pull 3 p.m. July 20, and the 1 p.m. donkey races and 6 p.m. demolition derby July 21.
For the full fair schedules, visit www.sherburnecountyfair.org.