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Ideal weather brings young, old

Food, rides and even Confederate flags at local fair

(Michael Krabbenhoeft/
A driver in the demolition derby tries to get his car away from the blocks while being pinned by another driver during the competition Saturday evening at the Whiteside County Fair in Morrison. The fair opened Tuesday and ended its run on Saturday.
(Michael Krabbenhoeft/
An SUV decorated in memory of Lisa Ward was driven by Lisa's husband, Matt, of Prophetstown, in the demolition derby Saturday evening at the Whiteside County Fair. Lisa died Aug. 3 after a battle with breast cancer.

MORRISON – Too hot at the Whiteside County Fair over the weekend? Nope. Not too cold either, and no rain to boot.

The fair was bustling late Saturday afternoon. The crowds grew as the demolition derby approached.

Events such as the derby were for the whole family. Other activities separated the young from the old.

A dozen older adults played bingo. Advanced age, however, was missing at the carnival’s Zipper – a ride that takes you upside down. Nineteen people stood in line. All under 25. Not for the faint of heart.

As always, the fair offered plenty of food. One stand’s sign read, “Hot Wisconsin Cheese.” So, of course, that trailer rolled over from the north, right? Wrong. It came from the other direction – far, far away, where many people like to retire. That would be Florida, apparently new competition for the cheeseheads.

Other booths sold a host of wares – dresses, jewelry, shirts.

One business from Peoria hawked caps, jewelry and large flags. The flags represented the United States, the branches of the military, and the Confederacy. Yes, a Confederate flag was displayed prominently in the Land of Lincoln. A hot seller?

“It depends on where you are,” a woman in the stand said. “We go all over the state.”

The carnival had games, too, with a variety of prizes.

The basketball game cost $5. A worker tried to catch fairgoers’ attention.

“Basketball! Basketball! Guaranteed to win a prize!” he told two boys. “How about it?”

They walked away. 

Another boy, about 4, showed interest, though. His grandmother let him play.

During the days of the fair, a trio of artists carved stumps of wood with chain saws – work that is difficult with such a big tool.

Late Saturday afternoon, they auctioned off their creations. The depiction of a bear sold for $325 – “a nice gift for your mother-in-law,” the auctioneer joked. Other items went for more than double that. 

In some of the barns, local groups and businesses had tables. 

John Toman spent much of the fair working the booth for the Friends of Annan Mill, a group that wants to buy the old mill along Rock Creek in Morrison. 

“It’s an architectural gem. You don’t find many of them,” Toman said.

At the floriculture exhibits, Lisa Peterson of Prophetstown was on hand. Her mother, Beverly Peterson, is the superintendent of floriculture.

“We held pretty steady this year,” Lisa said. “Some other sections were down. We were really full.”

In the 4-H barns, most of the livestock were gone by late Saturday afternoon. A few fairgoers visited nonetheless – an example of city meeting country.

One girl reached to pet a white horse’s face.

“Watch your fingers!” her mother warned.

In the photography area, 21-year-old Meredith Oostenryk was taking down her photo exhibits. She won a third place in the humorous category – a photo of a dog watching a kitten in the dog food bowl.

“What I do is get photos that I’ve taken over the last year on my cellphone,” Oostenryk said. “I’ve done this since I was 16.”

She even took a photo of a little girl in a pink outfit during the fair.

“I’ll submit that for next year.”

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