Activities at Fairgrounds Park
Over the past 100 years the Fairgrounds Park has been host to many different types of events and activities, from music concerts and plays to church fellowship gatherings. The following is an abbreviated list of some of the events that are currently active at the Fairgrounds Park.
The campground at the Fairgrounds Park is approximately seven acres in size and it can hold more than 200 camper units during event activities. All of the sites are located amongst towering red and white pine trees. Most of the sites are semi-primitive with few amenities. Approximately 80 sites can be connected to electric services. None of the sites have septic hookup at this time however there is a public RV dump station west of the campground area.
The campground offers a wash house with full shower and laundry services available. The amenities include picnic tables and fire rings when requested. The fire rings are portable wheel rims and are available as requested. Firewood is available for purchase. Several sites are provided with power hookup for 30 and 50 amp services. The campground is mostly used by event campers such as the Bluegrass Festival, the Car Show/Swap Meet, the County Fair, and other local community activities.
The rules are similar to other campgrounds in the area. Campers are to choose a site, setup, and pay upon arrival. Fees are dropped in a self-pay box and picked up daily by the staff. No reservations are available and no golf carts or ATV’s are allowed in the campground or on the park grounds.
Car Show/Swap Meet
The Car Show/Swap Meet is generally held on the last weekend in July. The Itasca Vintage Car Club held this event from 1972 to 2013. This has been a very popular event in Itasca County with many visitors from around the world. In 2014, when the Car Club decided to not host this event the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce volunteered to continue the event.
There are several horse clubs in the area that come to the Fairgrounds Park every year to do horse shows and training. A large 270 by 100 foot outdoor arena complete with bleachers and an announcer’s booth is available at the park.
Itasca County Fair
The Itasca County Fair is usually held on the third weekend of August. This event brings in a large number of visitors during the five day event. The fair features horse shows, music, carnival rides, demo derbies, stock-car races, exhibits, agricultural and livestock shows and competitions.
Itasca Water Legacy Partnership
The Youth Water Summit has been held at the Fairgrounds Park for 5th grade students from District 318, Deer River, St. Joseph's Catholic school, and Bigfork. Approximately 360 students rotate through 40 water science presenters to learn more about the environment and animal life in and around water. Funds are provided by local community grant sources and 50 to 60 adult volunteers help with the project.
The Fairgrounds Park has been home to many music events such as the Bluegrass Festival and the Blues Festival. The park is well suited for gatherings that need large open spaces, parking and camping for vendors and visitors. Currently there is a small Gazebo on the grounds for smaller local events.
North Star Expo
The expo has been active for many years providing a place for loggers, vendors, and timber companies to explore new equipment and ideas designed for the logging industry. When the event is held in Itasca County the Expo sets up on the county fairgrounds in late September.
Throughout the summer many race car events and derbies are held at the Itasca County Raceway on the north end of the fairgrounds. These events draw in many race enthusiasts from Itasca County and several neighboring counties.
School activities have been held at the Fairgrounds Park over the past 60 years. The park is located between the Robert J. Elkington Middle School and the Grand Rapids Senior High School and Murphy Elementary is just a few blocks away. Because of the close proximity of the park to these schools, students use the park for in-school and after-school activities.
The Minnesota DNR and several local ATV and Snowmobile Clubs host ATV and snowmobile safety programs at the Fairgrounds Park. These safety programs graduate many children each year, providing instruction in the safe operation of recreational vehicles. The Trailhead Building at the park is available for use as a training facility. The open space on the grounds works well for the field practice portion of safety training.
Several bike, snowmobile, dogsled, and walking events have begun and finished at the Itasca County Fairgrounds Park for more than 25 years. The Fairgrounds Park is the trailhead for the Mesabi Bike Trail, the Itasca Bike Trail, and the Taconite Snowmobile Trail. The Mesabi Bike Trail and Taconite Snowmobile Trail are well-known tourist’s attractions. The Itasca Bike Trail is part of Itasca County’s Regional Parks and Trails area, connects the Fairgrounds Park to Gunn Park.
Fairgrounds Park is the perfect facility to support many 4-H activities. Horse Project members use the arena for workshops and meetings throughout the summer. The Dog project meets weekly at the fairgrounds from May through August for 4-H Dog Training classes. The Dairy Barn is home to the agility course, and various green spaces become the obedience classrooms. Dog training culminates in a Fun Show 2 weeks prior to the County Fair.The Gazebo provides the perfect stage for the annual August 4-H Demonstration Event, and the 4-H Food Booth picnic area is home to many 4-H activities from May through September. The Trailhead Building has been a frequent home for 4-H Project Fun Day in the spring, Freezin Fun in the winter, 4-H Adventures in the summer, and various special events and overnight retreats during the year.