Small Town Wood Lake Continues ‘Mini World Fair’ Tradition

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For more than 80 years, a small town in western Minnesota has held its own fair.

About 350 people live in Wood Lake, Minn. But during the third week of August, thousands more come to town. And there is a good reason why.

The first Wood Lake Community Fair was held in 1935. Other than a hiatus during World War II (1942-1945) and a polio outbreak in 1946, the city fair has remained a constant in Yellow Medicine County. Affectionately referred to as “The World’s Fair” by people from surrounding towns, Wood Lake volunteers have made this event possible since Franklin Roosevelt was president.

Organizers pride themselves in still providing an old school carnival. There is also a beer garden, bingo, pedal pulls, dunk tank, water fights, parades, bean ball, kick ball and free entertainment. Admission at the gate is free.

“People come from Granite Falls, Renville, Cottonwood, Marshall, and from even further away,” said DeWayne Schaffran of the Wood Lake Commercial Club. “I say it’s a warm up to the State Fair.”

Wood Lake doesn’t have a restaurant, so when the fair begins on Monday, Aug. 20, they will start grilling burgers in the morning. Last year, they sold nearly 4,000 hamburgers and they went through nearly 1,550 pounds of potatoes to cut their own fries.

“Of course, people can go to ValleyFair or the local county fair, but the people within 50 miles know that they can come to our small town and have that same fun, meet up with old friends, and make new friends,” said Donna Ricke of the Wood Lake Community Club.

This year’s Wood Lake Community Fair will be held from Aug. 20-22.

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