Fried cheese curds and a world champion bull rider are just two of many new reasons to attend next week's Winneshiek County Fair.
Local organizers are busy tying up loose ends in preparation for the event, which starts Tuesday, July 9, and runs through Saturday, July 13.
"It's really coming together," said Fair Business Manager Edna Schrandt. Her involvement with the county Fair started in 1990 when she began serving on the Fair Board.
"It's my 24th one," she said.
"I'm excited about the cheese curds - we've been working on that for a while. The Winneshiek County Dairy producers will be selling them from their dairy booth," she said.
Another recent development is the addition of BJ Schumacher, the former 2006 world champion bull rider, to CC Bull Riding and Barrel Racing next Saturday night. Retired from bull riding, Schumacher will be riding his two Brahma bulls Roman style.
Schrandt said Schumacher was performing for a high school rodeo in Wisconsin earlier this year when the CC Bull Riding organizer asked Schrandt if she'd like Schumacher to be part of next Saturday night's show. Her response was a definite yes.
"I thought it would be a feather in our hat to have him here," she said.
The Winneshiek County Fair kicks off Tuesday, July 9, with livestock entries and the skid loader rodeo around noon. The queen coronation and opening ceremonies are Tuesday evening in front of the grandstand, followed by the Bill Riley Iowa State Fair Talent Search at 7 p.m. Randy and Kathy Burris (American Pie) will emcee the talent show.
Little Texas, billed as "the hardest working band in country music," will take the stage Wednesday night, July 10. The Nashville, Tenn. multi-platinum band is celebrating its 21st year since its first single, "Some Guys Have All the Love" hit the air waves in 1991.
Thursday night, July 11, features Upper Iowa Speedway stock car races, with hot laps at 6 p.m. The Tri-State Truck & Tractor Pull begins at 6 p.m. Friday, July 12, CC Bull Riding & Barrel Racing will entertain fairgoers starting at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 13.
Grandstand buttons provide admittance to the grandstand every night. They are $16 before the fair and $20 during. There is no charge for children 6 and under.
Evans United, "The Midwest's Best Carnival," is returning to the midway. Evans is considered "one of the best midways around," according to Fair Board President Gary Schutte.
Wristband days are Wednesday, July 10, 6-10 p.m., Friday, July 12, 6-10 p.m. and Saturday, July 13, 2-6 p.m. During those times, a wristband allows unlimited number of rides on the Evans United Midway. The pre-Fair price for wristbands is $15. During the Fair, the bands will cost $17.
Wristband presales are available through Monday, July 8, only. They are on sale at Decorah Bank and Trust, Viking State Bank and Trust and Bank of the West in Decorah.
Schrandt said she's pleased the number of 4-H exhibits is consistent with previous years. They include projects showcased in both the community building and the showbarns.
"I contribute the participation to good volunteer leaders who spend so much time with our 4-H kids and guide them," she said.
Mr. Nick and his Kids Fun Zone and Miller's Petting Zone will both be returning. There will be a variety of cooking contests and food stands.
Schutte said there's still time to enter the "Hobby Shop Creations" contest, which was new last year and offers three categories: wood, steel and electronics. The July 1 deadline to enter has been extended, he said.
Last year's weather was "phenomenal" for Fair week, and the Fair Board ran out of buttons after 4,000 were sold, Schutte said. Old buttons had to be used the last two nights of the fair.
"It was the best Fair we ever had - the largest attendance ever," Schrandt said.
This year, the Board is ordering an additional 500 buttons.
"There will be something for everybody there .. from the kids show, to livestock shows, the educational building and all the commercial exhibits and food contests," Schutte said.
"And the Fair food .. that's great too."
It's a team effort to run a successful Fair, Schutte said.
"We have excellent sponsors, volunteers and Board and Auxiliary. All that makes my job easy. And Edna. Without her, it wouldn't happen," Schutte said.