BAYTOWN TOWNSHIP — The calendar says the dog days of summer are near, but there is plenty of fun to be found during the 142nd Annual Washington County Fair Wednesday through Aug. 4 at the County Fairgrounds in Baytown Township.
The five-day event has a variety of exhibitions and shows of all interests, as well as a carnival. Exhibit buildings are open 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. Admission is $7 for persons 16 years and older, $4 for children ages 6 to 15 and free for children 5 years and under. Season passes are available for purchase from 9 .m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Fair Office in Building “B.” Prices are $18 for adults 16 and older, $6 for children 6-15 and free for children 5 and under.
Aug. 1 is Family Day at the fair and families are invited to participate in a variety of special children’s entertainment beginning at 10 a.m. near the main stage.
Aug. 2 is Senior Citizens Day and senior citizens over age 65 are admitted for free until 1 p.m. There will be special awards, refreshments and bingo in the West Pavilion at 1 p.m.
Bob Rafferty of Stillwater and Linda Simkins of Woodbury, will be honored as the fair’s outstanding male and female volunteers during the Senior Citizens Day event.
Rafferty volunteers with several groups, including the National Alliance on Mental Health/Washington County, the county’s local Mental Health Advisory Council, BRIDGING Program and support group facilitator in Mahtomedi.
Siblings Margot and John Rheinberger of Stillwater, nominated Rafferty for his more than two decades of working with and advocating for those with mental illness along with their families.
Within their nomination write-up, the Rheinbergers’ included feedback from eight people who have personally worked with Rafferty. “We felt as if we were submitting Rob’s nomination for sainthood based on the abundance of glowing feedback that we had received,” said Margot Rheinberger.
Rafferty, who makes himself available 24/7 to those in need, also provides jobs, and tangibles like furniture, household goods, clothing and toiletries, as well as something equally important.
“I make every effort to listen and try to understand a person’s inner struggles with mental illness,” he said, adding “I hope that I have made life better for the mentally ill.”
“By all accounts, he has made a world of difference in the lives of individuals too often shunned by others,” added John Rheinberger.
Linda Simkins’ volunteer activities include Meals on Wheels, St. Croix Valley Bloodmobile, Second Harvest Foodshelf, and quilt making for both the Lutheran World Relief and the Harriet Tubman Family Violence organization.
Simkins also has exemplified volunteerism at it’s best at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Afton where she has served in many positions.
For several years, she was active in her communities’ 4-H club.
Nominating Simkins for the award, Peggy Oehlke of Afton said Simkins’ genuine compassion seems to naturally lead to action.
“Linda always thinks ahead as to what she can do when someone is in need,” Oehlke said, citing how Simkins organized a fundraiser for a family whose house had burned down, as just one example.
Another popular fairgrounds stop is the “Fairest” garden, the demonstration garden by the University of Minnesota Master Gardeners on the fairgrounds’ east side.
The “Fairest” garden is actually many gardens, including a cottage, native, vegetable, lavender, ornamental grass, perennial, annual and herb gardens. Plus, nine containers of flowers and other ornamental plants give visitors many ideas for their own pots.
Also included in the garden is a “Monarch waystation” with six varieties of milkweed and several nectar-producing annuals; a pollinator garden that complements and diversifies the waystation, and four rain gardens near the Fairest Garden that demonstrate several options for improving water quality when landscaping. One garden consists of all shrubs, another is garden perennials, and two areas contain native perennials.
Master Gardeners will conduct diagnostic clinics from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 2 and Aug. 4. The public is invited to bring plant and insect samples and photos for diagnosis by Master Gardeners. Volunteers will identify the plants or insects, diagnose common problems and make recommendations.
Advance sale discount tickets for carnival rides can be purchased from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday at the Fair Office located in Building “B.” Discount tickets can also be purchased on Wednesday, July 31 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m., but admission will be charged as it is the first day of the fair. The discount tickets are each good for one ride, not including game booths or concessions, and are five tickets for $10.