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Archive for Sunday, August 10, 2008

Kids, cute critters shine at Vinland Fair

August 10, 2008

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The two kittens in Jade Wagner's basket were so young that they had yet to be given names. But the 7-year-old Baldwin City girl knew she had prize winners in the furry bundles.

"They're cute," Jade said before heading on stage at the Vinland Fair on Saturday. Jade carried her basket of kittens as she marched in a circle, grinning to the audience. She won first prize.

Goats, dogs, cats and other animals were on display for the pet parade, one of numerous activities at the long-running fair.

Rainy weather may have thinned crowds, but it did not stop the festivities Saturday as the Vinland Fair celebrated its 101st run.

"The kids still come out, and that's the main thing," said Nancy Helm, co-organizer of the pet parade.

Fairgoers delighted in horseshoe-pitching contests, watermelon-seed spitting competitions, box turtle races and other fun and games.

"There's no other fair in the community like it," said Mary Gensler, a fair board member. "It's like one big picnic. It's been happening for 101 years."

Gensler said little has changed over the years.

"It's a place where people go and meet your neighbors," she said. "Maybe you only see them once a year, but you see them at the fair."

Devon Mihesuah, who came with her daughter Ari, said the fair is a great place for kids.

"It gives the kids an opportunity to participate without being completely overwhelmed by huge crowds," she said.

Mihesuah said she moved to the area a few years ago and was pleasantly surprised by the small-town fair.

"This fair is a lot of fun, and you can drop your kids off and they can run around safely," she said.

Holly Vesecky, 7, of Vinland, may be young, but she's a veteran of her hometown fair. She's entered dogs, cats and rabbits in the pet parade and knows all the tricks. The rabbits are the best to show, she said, because they're cute. But they aren't always the easiest to win prizes with.

"Sometimes they're all wild and jumpy, and they can jump out of the baskets," she said.

Holly's sister, 9-year-old Lacey Vesecky, shared her winning tips.

"You have to keep your eye on the judge," she said, "And you have to lead (the animal) correctly, and you have to set it up."

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