If you are willing to embrace the experience, the Visit Brainerd team has some suggestions for how you can get a similar Fair fix this year.

Brainerd, MN—For so many people the Crow Wing County Fair is an annual tradition. It is an opportunity to eat fun food, experience interesting exhibits, see the animals, and enjoy live music and entertainment. The fair was canceled this year in an abundance of caution for all participants, but its absence puts a mini-donut sized hole in the hearts of those who measure this perennial favorite in corn dogs consumed and laps around the Fairground loop.

Food. If deep-fried favorites are on the list, check out the Fair Food Fundraiser at the Brainerd Campus of Central MN Adult & Teen Challenge, which is located at 2424 Business 371 in Brainerd. Food service will be drive-in style to accommodate social distancing requirements, but all the usually fair treats are on the menu. This fundraiser will be held August 6-8 from 11:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m. Looking for something out of the ordinary? Try local favorite, Morey’s Seafood Markets Mobile Galley, which is a food trailer in the parking lot of the Baxter store on Highway 371 North. It is open Monday–Saturday from 11:00 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Wanting to sate the sweet tooth? Find specialty fudge and delectable desserts at Christmas Point Wild Rice Co. located on Edgewood Drive in Baxter…or try a scoop or two of hard-dipped ice cream from Fancy Pants Chocolates located on Laurel Street in Downtown Brainerd.

Exhibits. The Crossing Arts Alliance presents its newest exhibition ’84, Artwork By Tony Powers. It will be open August 4–29. It is an artistic reaction to the volatile social and political climate of 2020 and the pieces were created during the COVID-19 Quarantine. Another artist community to visit is the Franklin Arts Center. It is a unique collection of resident artists, commercial arts enterprises, and creative organizations residing in the historic former Franklin Jr. High building near downtown Brainerd, MN. Looking for natural art? Visit the Northland Arboretum which is more than 500-acres of nature reserve. It has magnificent gardens, a variety of habitats including grasslands and restored prairie, jack pine forest, wetlands, a stream, shrub bog and of special importance, a 200-acre jack pine savanna.

Animals. From cute and cuddly, to fluffy and fuzzy, there are a variety of animals to see at Safari North Wildlife Park. The park is open seven days a week from 9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m. until September 27. Safari North also has hands-on opportunities to feed and interact with the animals, a petting zoo, a dinosaur dig, camel rides and more. The Brainerd-area also has excellent parks and trails perfect for birding. Visit Rotary Park located on the Mississippi River in Brainerd to find excellent bird habitat. Or cast a line in one of Crow Wing County’s 400 lakes and reel in the big one.

Live Entertainment. The Central Lakes College Performing Arts Center’s production, “The Wonderettes,” is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. This smash Off-Broadway hit takes you to the 1958 Springfield High School prom, where we meet Betty Jean, Cindy Lou, Missy, and Suzy: four girls with hopes and dreams as big as their crinoline skirts. Running August 3-6 at 6:30 p.m. on the south lawn of Central Lakes College.

Thrill Seekers. For the adrenaline junkies who will be missing the Midway rides, take a trip out to the Brainerd Zip Line Tour. Experience the seven-line zipline tour or The Drop—an exhilarating 50’ free-fall experience. Northland Kart Kountry also has several fast-paced experiences like four different go-karts, bungee bounce, 9D Virtual Reality, batting cages and a rock-climbing wall.

Learning. The University of Minnesota Extension office has expanded online education and resources while in-person events are canceled. Find a complete listing online.