SAUK RAPIDS -- If you're expecting to see some prized chickens or turkeys at the Benton County Fair guess again.

The bird flu outbreak this year has brought new changes to the Benton County Fair says 4-H coordinator Heidi Anderson.

"It's changed things quite a bit. We've really tried all across the state to provide a positive and meaningful experience for our 4-H youth involved in the poultry project," says Anderson.

Minnesota lost 9-million turkey's and chicken's from the disease, which has lead to many fair across the state to cancel all poultry shows.

"We know the poultry industry is going through a really tough time in Minnesota, so we wanted as 4-H to be there for them and to be there for the public to say yes this is an issue but that doesn't mean we are not working around it," says Anderson.

Anderson says the news came as a disappointment for many kids who look forward to showcasing their birds.

"Kids are very passionate about what they are taking. They work very hard, their projects don't just start the week before the fair it starts a year out from the fair," says Anderson.

However, instead of leaving the poultry barn empty, Benton County Fair officials and volunteers came up with a creative idea.

"We are still going to put the cages up but we are going to fill them with pictures of the kids and their project along with educational displays and just different opportunities like that," says Anderson.

Anderson says they hope to bring live birds to the fair next year but as for now only time will tell.

"We are unsure if it will be back next year, we hope, but if not we will continue to grow and provide these experiences for the kids," says Anderson.

The Benton County Fair runs tomorrow (Tuesday) through Sunday.


Volunteers set up for the new style Poultry Show at the Benton County Fair. (Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON)