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Murray County Fair will feature history of area

August 14, 2012
By Jenny Kirk , Marshall Independent

Everyone is invited to take a step back in history this week at the 2012 Murray County Fair, which is jam-packed with fun, family-friendly activities each and every day.

"It's going to be crazy fun," said Christy Surprenant Riley, Murray County community relations.

The best part, Riley said, is that the Murray County Fair continues to be free, with no admission or parking fees, thanks to outstanding sponsorship every year.

"Most events are free or low-cost because the fair board really wants it to be a family event and end-of-the-year event before the kids go back to school," Surprenant Riley said. "We couldn't do it without all the sponsors. It's not cheap to put a fair together."

With a "Heritage" theme this year, organizers have lined up must-see presentations reflecting Murray County history and tradition. Anita Gaul, a professor at Southwest Minnesota State University, conducted research on what life was like in the area in the 1800s and early 1900s and will give two presentations: "Pioneer Women in Southwest Minnesota" at 4 p.m. Friday and "Homely Girls and Pretty Babies" at 4 p.m. on Saturday, both at Heritage Hall.

"When we started putting the fair together, we tried to think of a theme," Surprenant Riley said. "We started off with Anita, with her researching the history of the fair and we built the other ones into it."

The "Pioneer Women" presentation will highlight how women in that era contributed to the European settlement of the area, dispelling the stereotypical image of women being portrayed as either overworked drudges or perky helpmates. Gaul's final presentation is expected to be well attended as she provides an entertaining history of the Murray County Fair, now in its 102nd year, including countless contests and competitions of the past.

At 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Bill Bolin will present "Shetek Settlements and 1862" in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Dakota Uprising. Jesse James will share what he knows about "The Sweetman Colonies" at 5 p.m. on Thursday.

"Bill will show a film and talk about the 150th of the Dakota Warrior history," Surprenant Riley said. "Jesse will talk about the Irish colonies along Lake Shetek. He lives on the Sweetman home place, so he has a really unique perspective of that."

A free lumberjack show, at 7 p.m. Wednesday and at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday, will be a crowd-pleaser. There will also be lumberjack demonstrations all day Thursday, Surprenant Riley said.

"They're recommending kids and adults come learn how to be lumberjacks," she said. "They're bringing in a 10,000-gallon tank of water that will have logs in there. If it's hot, it'll be even more popular."

Fair-goers may also appreciate another new feature, chuck wagon cooking samples, free to the public and offered all day on Saturday.

"A woman and her husband are coming from Wisconsin and they'll set up a full chuck wagon display and dress in clothing from the era," Surprenant Riley said. "They'll be making samples all day, like beans, some kind of cobbler and pork loin on biscuits, like they did back in the day."

Wine-tasting, from 6-10 p.m. Thursday and Friday, is also a new feature at the fair. Wine and cheese samples can be purchased at the beer gardens.

"With the new state statute that allows the promotion of wine at agricultural events, a local vineyard outside of Currie will be here. That'll be another really cool event," Surprenant Riley said.

To go along with the longtime fair favorites, like the stock car races at 7:30 p.m. Friday and the 4-H shows, other newer events back by popular demand are the 5K walk/run at 8 a.m. Saturday, the strong farmer competition at 7 p.m. Thursday and the rib cook-off at 4 p.m. Saturday.



9 a.m. 4-H horse show, horse arena


9 a.m. Cloverbuds pet show, Olsen Arena

9:30 a.m. Pet show, regular 4-H members, Olsen Arena

9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. 4-H conference judging

9:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Open class entries, fair office

10 a.m.-5 p.m. Historical museum

11 a.m. 4-H rabbit judging, Olsen Arena

1-5 p.m. Dinehart-Holt House Museum open, special prom dress display

2 p.m. 4-H goat judging, Olsen Arena

3 p.m. Historical presentation - "Shetek Settlements and 1862" presented by Bill Bolin at Heritage Hall

4:30 p.m. 4-H fashion review, Heritage Hall

5 p.m. Beer garden opens, Heritage Hall

5-7 p.m. Fun food cupcake challenge at the 4-H building (Open to everyone)

6 p.m. 4-H sheep judging and lamb lead, Olsen Arena

7 p.m. Bean bag tournament in beer garden

7 p.m. Free beer garden entertainment featuring the Country Gentleman Jerry Davis

7 p.m. Free lumberjack show

7 p.m. Century Farm recognition, MCC School Auditorium

7:30 p.m. Murray County Fair variety show, MCC School auditorium


8 a.m. 4-H swine judging, Olsen Arena

10 a.m.-7 p.m. Historical museum, Sierk building and log cabin open

Noon 4-H dairy judging, Olsen Arena

Noon Apple pie judging contest (pie registration)

1-7 p.m. Laser gun simulator by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

1 p.m. Free lumberjack show demonstrations and kids camps all day long

1 p.m. Apple pie judging contest at Heritage Hall

2:30 p.m. 4-H presentations and food revue, Heritage Hall

3:30 p.m. 4-H performing arts judging, Heritage Hall

5 p.m. Historical presentation - "The Sweetman Colonies" presented by Jesse James at Heritage Hall

5 p.m. Free ice cream donated by the Murray County Medical Center in the round barn

5 p.m. Beer garden opens, Heritage Hall

5:30 p.m. Llama demonstrations, Olsen Arena

6-10 p.m. Wine tasting by Painted Prairie Vineyard, beer gardens at Heritage Hall

7 p.m. Joe's Summer Fun Party sponsored by KJOE Radio, Beer Garden

7 p.m. Free lumberjack show

7 p.m. Bean bag tournament, beer garden

7 p.m. Strong Farmer competition, horse arena


9 a.m. 4-H beef judging, Olsen Arena

10 a.m.-7 p.m. Historical museum, Sierk building and log cabin open

Noon 4-H horse show, horse arena

1 p.m. 4-H poultry judging, hoop barn

1-7 p.m. Laser gun simulator by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

1-5 p.m. Dinehart-Holt House museum open, special prom dress display

1:30 p.m. Kids bean bag tournament, Heritage Hall

2-7 p.m. Rollover simulator, near blue commercial building

4 p.m. Historical presentation - "Pioneer Women in Southwest Minnesota" presented by Anita Gaul, Heritage Hall

4:30 p.m. Mylan Ray to perform at the pork/malt stand

5 p.m. Kiddie tractor pull, near Heritage Hall

5 p.m. Beer garden opens, Heritage Hall

5 p.m. 4-H Premier showmanship, arena

6-10 p.m. Wine tasting by Painted Prairie Vineyard, beer gardens at Heritage Hall

5:30 p.m. Pork loin dinner, sponsored by Murray County 4-H and Pork Producers

7 p.m. Crafts for kids, sponsored by McAmbies, 4-H exhibit hall

7 p.m. Free beer garden entertainment featuring Kayla Daniels

7 p.m. Bean bag tournament, beer garden

7:30 p.m. Stock car races, grandstand


8 a.m. 5K walk/run, starting at the courthouse and ending at the fairgrounds

9 a.m. Chuck wagon cooking events all day long

10 a.m. 4-H ribbon auction sale, Olsen Arena

10 a.m.-7 p.m. Open Door mobile clinic display

1-5 p.m. Historical museum, Sierk building, log cabin and Dinehart-Holt House open

1-5 p.m. Laser gun simulator by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

1 p.m. Prairie Day parade, downtown Slayton

2 p.m. Beer garden opens, Heritage Hall, entertainment by Ron and Jane Cote, along with Larry Cote, throughout the afternoon

2 p.m. Nobles Cooperative Elective Rib Cook-off "Best Camp" contest begins

4 p.m. Historical presentation - "Homely Girls and Pretty Babies - An Entertaining History of the Fair" presented by Anita Gaul in Heritage Hall

4-5 p.m. Beer garden happy hour

5 p.m. Nobles Cooperative Electric Rib Cook-off, meal served

5:30 p.m. Exhibits in 4-H building released

6 p.m. Livestock released

6 p.m. Bean bag tournament finals, beer garden

6 p.m. Truck pull, grandstands (local participation encouraged)


1 p.m. Threshing and field demonstrations at Ernie Engelkes on Hwy. 59

1 p.m. Helicopter rides, listen to KJOE Radio to win a ticket



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