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Gearing up for the fair

John Munich, left, helps his grandson Jack Mickus, 6, nail together a wooden water trough at Munich’s home in South Range. Jack and his sisters Lily, 8, and Emma, 11, have spent the last few weeks preparing 4-H projects for the Head of the Lakes Fair, which opens with a sneak peek today. (Maria Lockwood)

Mikayla Maijala has been riding circles around her horses for weeks.

“I ride the lawnmower around them, play loud music,” said the 16-year-old. The town of Amincon teen has been opening mailboxes in front of the horses, Amigo and Oreo, and even throwing blankets over them. Mikayla will find out if her desensitizing efforts pay off when the horses compete at the Head of the Lakes Fair this week. The fun kicks off at 6 p.m. today with a free sneak peek.

A ferris wheel was poised above the Head of the Lakes Fairgrounds Sunday, with other carnival games waiting for their turn to shine. But today, the projects flood in. Every year, the fair showcases the talents and livestock of local 4-H members. Entries for the fair total more than 2,500, half of them 4-H youth projects and the others open class. For the Mickus family of South Range, the fair is a weeklong commitment.

“I’m there with the kids the whole week,” said Lisa Mickus.

Her three children are entering projects. Emma, 11, is competing with her gelding Warrior on Friday and Saturday. She’s also submitting woodworking, art, model horse and painting projects. Lily, 8, will bring woodworking and drawing projects. Little brother Jack, 6, will also showcase woodwork and art projects. He said he’s looking forward to competing for ribbons. His big sister has earned her share of blue ribbons, that’s not her focus.

“It’s all about working together, not caring if someone’s is better,” Emma said, and it’s fun to see the other projects on display.

“There are a lot of really cool projects, they make you want to do it yourself,” Mikayla said. “It’s amazing what some kids do.”

In addition to the horses, the Amnicon teen has been prepping three mini rex rabbits and two pet cats to show. The rabbits sit quietly when she sets them on the table for faux judging, the teen said, but the felines tend to run off. Mikayla is also be entering photography and art projects. The pictures are mainly of nature and animals; the art projects include dog and cat toys made out of fleece.

“I’m a big animal lover,” she said.

For these 4-H members, summer vacation includes fair preparation. On Aug. 8, the Mickus children nailed, sanded and painted woodworking projects under the watchful eye of their grandfather, John Munich. They donned safety goggles and ear protection before using a nail gun and sanding tool. Then, they covered their creations with a coat of paint.

“You can see how much fun they’re having,” John Munich said. “And they’re proud of what they made.”

The kids weren’t the only ones enjoying the work.

“They’re so good at it,” Munich said. “I love doing this. It’s a lot of fun.”

Both the Mickus children and Mikayla are members of the Horses ‘R’ Us 4-H club based in Lake Nebagamon.

“It’s a great club; it gets the kids motived and keeps them busy,” Lisa Mickus said, and all three of her kids enjoy it. Showing items at the fair, and checking out what others have entered, is something they look forward to every year. Emma said she’s also eager to help at the 4-H Dairy Bar, serving up malts, ice cream and other treats. All the beef and hamburger sold at the dairy bar is produced locally.

Mikayla said this is her second year in 4-H. She appreciates the experiences and skills she’s gained in the club, saying involvement has helped her to be less shy. And she encouraged others to join a club because there are “a lot of opportunities.”

Fair midway and beyond ...

Superior Telegram

Music, races and midway games await visitors this week at the Head of the Lakes Fair. Visitors can peruse the projects and livestock entries during a free sneak peek beginning today at 6 p.m. Late models, mods and pure stocks racing begins on the AMSOIL Speedway at 6:30 p.m. today, but admission is required.

The Todd Armstrong Shows rides and midway open at 2 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, with free admission for children age 17 and younger until 6 p.m. Thursday’s events also include senior bingo at 1 p.m., kids pedal tractor races at 6 p.m., the livestock auction at 7 p.m. and music by Aftershock beginning at 8 p.m. The four-piece cover band plays a variety of rock and roll from the ’70s, through today.

The rides and midway open at 2 p.m. Friday. The AMSOIL Speedway will host super stocks, MW mods and pure stocks races beginning at 6:30 p.m. Admission to the races is free with gate admission. A four-piece light rock variety band, Showtime, takes the stage at 9 p.m. performing covers from Adele to ZZ Top. The group, which has performed throughout the Twin Ports since 2012, is known for its tight music and vocal performances.

The rides and midway open at noon Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s musical acts include a Johnny Cash tribute by Sherwin Linton and the Cotton Kings from 3-6 p.m. The Farmer’s Daughters, a young band that has opened for Nashville and regional acts including Ashley Buchart, Lost Highway and Jazcob Martin Band, takes the stage at 8 p.m.

Youth 4-H exhibits will be on display through Sunday.

Gate admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors age 62 and older, $5 for children age 13-17 and $3 for children age 6-12. Children age 5 and younger are admitted free.

The Duluth Transit Authority (DTA) and city of Superior also provide special evening service among downtown Duluth and Superior, and the Head of the Lakes Fair starting Wednesday through Saturday. For information, call 218-722-7283 or visit