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Tori Koch of Puposky and her painted cow posed as Paul Bunyan and the Babe the Blue Ox to win the Dress a Cow contest at Beltrami County Fair. (Pioneer File Photo)

Beltrami County (Minn.) Fair offers variety of activities for children and adults

BEMIDJI, Minn. — The Beltrami County Fair this summer will again invite children to come "paint a pig" during this summer's annual fair, to be held Aug. 10-14 at the Beltrami County Fairgrounds.

The two-day "Fun in the Barn" activities offer opportunities for kids to get up-close and hands-on with animals.

Saturday evening—Aug. 13—will feature Dress-A-Goat at 6:30 p.m., where people can decorate their goat in whatever fashion they wish. Following that, children will then dress a bird for the Poultry Parade.

Sunday's schedule of events begins at 9 a.m. with the Goat Agility contest, followed by Paint-A-Pig at 10:30 a.m., and the Barnyard Obstacle Course at noon. Activities continue at 3 p.m. with the Chicken Races, to be followed by the Sheep Sock Races.

"It really is just plain old fun," said Vern Holzhueter, the superintendent of poultry for the fair. "So often we're focused on education and learning so we have to get some fun mixed in there, too."

For several activities, children really do need to have their own animal—such as the Dress-A-Cow event—but for others, all children are welcome to take part.

"The Chicken Races and the Barnyard Olympics in particular, those are (activities) anybody can participate in," Holzhueter said. "We've had (in the Chicken Races) kids from Chicago who've never even seen a real chicken before."

The Barnyard Obstacle Course consists of a blindfolded person being guided by a sighted team member around an obstacle course. The blindfolded person will be carrying a hay bale, water bucket and pushing a wheelbarrow. There will be divisions for different age groups.

In the Chicken Races, kids have to direct their chicken to get from the starting line to the finish line — without touching the bird.

"It can be pretty bizarre, pretty chaotic," Holzhueter said, laughing. "It's all fun."

In the Sheep Sock Races, socks are placed on each of a sheep's hooves and, again, the children have to direct their sheep to the finish line with its socks still in place.

As always, spectators are welcome to come observe all events.

All events will take place in either the small animal arena or the large animal arena and will be announced on the PA system. Schedules will be posted daily, and will also be posted online at

Fun in the Barn events began about two decades ago, he noted, and were the brainchild of the late Marilyn Shutter, a longtime Fair Board member. Holzhueter said the Dress-A-Cow probably started about 20 years ago and the dress-a-bird events about 17 years ago.

"(Marilyn), she the one who really got all that going, all those fun things out there," he said.

Prizes for each event are sponsored by MedSave Family Pharmacy & Wellness Center and the Barnyard Obstacle Course is sponsored by InCharge Fitness. Holzhueter said Rich Chernugal, who operates both business, has been a great partner.

"His attitude is, 'It's all about the kids,'" Holzhueter said