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Helmut Schmidt, Published July 10 2009

It’s fair time of year in Red River Valley

BARNESVILLE, Minn., – When it comes to chickens, Terry Kreps of Borup is no coward, but he pecks away at one important piece of showcraft: Be careful how you carry them.

“Don’t get them mad,” he said, pointing out their claws and beaks.

Waiting in the poultry area for the Clay County Fair judges, the 7-year-old 4-H Cloverbud said he likes his silver-laced Wayandottes because they stay clean, even without a bath.

If you must bathe chickens, don’t use too much water (and forget about a blow-dryer), Kreps said, because, and this appears to be a common theme with deep-fryable show beasts, “they get mad.”

With that advice, welcome to fair season in the Red River Valley.

In the next eight days, local fans of anything that can be sold on a stick will be blessed with a midsummer cornucopia of arts, crafts, snow cones, cattle shows, carnival rides, demo derbies, funnel cakes, and country, rock, and steel drum bands.

In addition to the Clay County Fair, which runs through Sunday, the Red River Valley Fair starts today in West Fargo and runs through July 18.

Next week, Fargo’s Downtown Street Fair runs Thursday through Saturday.

This year’s Fair-a-Palooza came about when the Red River Valley Fair switched its run date from June back to July.

Red River Valley Fair General Manager Bryan Schulz said the move helped sign a carnival with more extreme rides for teens and young adults, and gives competitors time to make arts and crafts and grow blue-ribbon worthy-fruits, vegetables and flowers.

The switch won’t hurt the Clay County Fair, said Brian Halverson, president of the fair board of directors.

“We’ll be fine. We have two different fairs. We are an old-fashioned county fair,” Halverson said. “We have no beer garden, just lots of good family fun.”

Halverson said Clay fair officials struck a deal that allows Clay 4-H’ers to show at the Red River Valley Fair next week to compete.

“I think in the long run, it will help both of us,” Schulz said.

Dave Anderson, president of the Downtown Community Partnership, predicted each event will attract its traditional mix of customers.

“I see tons of crowds being different crowds,” Anderson said. “Ours is not a midway event; ours is not a big rock and country event. I think it’s kind of adding to the menu for the area.”

If there were problems with scheduling, it came for food vendors, who were “spread so thin,” Anderson said. “Some had to make choices, or split their teams.”

If you go

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583