The 131st Aitkin County Fair went off without a hitch last week, with fair organizers calling crowds “over the top.”

Showing off fashion at the Aitkin County Fair

by Lynn Mizner

Premium winners in the needle arts competition at the Aitkin County Fair displayed their prize-winning work in a fashion show in the Home Activities Building last week.

Carol Jensen’s dressmaking skills were highlighted in a number of childrens’s garments she had designed and made with comfort in mind; the colorful garments were worn in the show by local children. American Girl doll clothing Jensen had made was was also displayed.

Show co-emcee Christine Bright mentioned that most of the clothing Jensen makes is given away to children in the community.

Joy Janzen had a quilt that highlighted milestones in the life of her grandson in the show. The multi-media quilt included pieces of clothing and photographs in addition to fabric squares and embroidery. Janzen’s grandson recently turned 18 and had many accomplishments and memories immortalized in the quilt.

Lucy Swanson’s children modeled clothing in the show, and she displayed a small patchwork purse that she had made.

In addition to the children photographed, local children Aleisha Bryan and Olivia Savage helped display the American Girl dolls wearing clothing items submitted for the show.

Local musician Christian McShane provided the musical backdrop to the fashion show.

Pickle judging: attention to detail is key

by Lynn Mizner

Joy Janzen knows her pickles.

Janzen has judged thousands of jars of home-canned pickles, both in her home county of Aitkin and at the Minnesota State Fair.

“Even if there is only one entry in a category, it is judged according to its merits,” said Janzen.  There is not an automatic first place for a sole entrant.

On Thursday last week, Janzen was joined by novice pickle judges Amanda Lowe and Christian McShane. The trio judged half a dozen jars of pickles and picked a winner in each category as well as a Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion submission.

McShane and Lowe learned that pickles not only have to be pretty, the jars must be shiny and clean, the seal tight, the processing method appropriate to the type of preserve, the headspace and liquid level must be correct, and the pickle must be crunchy and tasty.

Janzen checked the recipe submitted to make sure the correct ingredients were included, and she noted the way the produce was cut in preparation for pickling.

Grand Champion Hulda Lind of Palisade had the winning pickle, which was a spicy daikon radish pickle. Reserve Champion was Martha Wickman, who had submitted dill pickles. Pamela Steffens took first place in both the pickled bean and pickled beet categories.

Christian McShane performs at fair, promotes Ripplesippi Music Festival

“I’m doing this performance to give people a taste of what to expect at the festival on Aug. 21,” said McShane at the Aitkin County Fair on July 8.  McShane, whose musicology includes an eclectic mix of music styles, will be joined by a number of other local artists headlined by Charlie Parr at the festival near the Block North Brew Pub in downtown Aitkin. Tickets are on sale and are advertised on posters around Aitkin.

At the wheel...

Vehicles took center stage at the Aitkin County Fair July 9-10, with car and bus races as well as the annual tractor parade. Members of the Liljenquist family led off the tractor parade July 10, in honor of Rich Liljenquist, who died earlier this year; the race track water truck led the National Anthem July 9; bus racing remains one of the most popular events at the fair; baja truck racing took place July 10; even the youngsters got in on the fun with the kids’ pedal tractor pull July 8.