There are farm animals, historical exhibits, carnival rides, deep-fried food, and products for sale at the North Dakota State Fair, but there isn't always a whole lot of opportunity to witness a show scoring high on the cute factor or a chance for kids of all ages to play dress-up and pretend to travel back in time.
At The Cutest Show on Earth, however, a show on Free Stage 1 that's performed four times each day of the fair, there is ample opportunity for such childlike activities. The interactive show gives kids a chance to become familiar with farm animals and how agriculture works, with a message on the importance of hand washing. There is also plenty of audience participation, from kids and adults alike.
Paige McDaniel, the emcee of the show, portrays Amelia Airhead, a wacky flight attendant who takes the participants on a trip back through time and teaches about farm animals. She toured with the show in 2012, but was asked to come to the North Dakota State Fair this year as a way to help out with the entertainment and drove here from Seattle.
Paige McDaniel, center, portraying the wacky flight attendant Amelia Airhead, leads the participants from the audience in an elaborate game of pretend in The Cutest Show on Earth at the North Dakota State Fair. The show is interactive and teaches kids about agriculture, 4-H and hygiene.
The Cutest Show on Earth is part of Let's Pretend Entertainment, an entertainment company from Washington that provides interactive attractions and shows. Their focus is to build kids' confidence and exercise their imagination, McDaniel said in her introduction for The Cutest Show on Earth.
"This is a dress-up show and the cutest thing you'll see all day at the fair, I guarantee," she added, before getting into character as Amelia Airhead, ready to "fly back through time and hyperspace."
It was a small audience at Wednesday's 2 p.m. showing of The Cutest Show on Earth and took some doing to find enough participants, but McDaniel managed to twist a few arms of nearby fair-goers, luring them in with potential cuteness.
Once all of the participants were in costume and knew their parts, McDaniel made sure everyone was safely buckled into folding chairs for the pretend plane ride through time and hyperspace. However, she gave a cryptic warning of a potentially dangerous stowaway, The Germinator, who might be on the plane with the farm animals and the Germ Cop.
The flight made three layovers, stopping in the years 1926, 1952 and back to 2014. In 1926, there was a chicken that laid the most eggs and the crew was given the opportunity to learn about the chicken. The next stop, 1952, was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of 4-H. The farmer, played by one of the kids from the audience, introduced the bunny and the cow, with the help of Amelia Airhead, leading them in a rendition of the song "Old McDonald's Farm."
On the last stop, though, the stowaway was discovered and scary music sounded in the pretend plane. "Somebody let in The Germinator!" exclaimed Amelia Airhead. "I petted all of the animals and didn't wash my hands!" In a quick effort of pretend hand washing and a good soaking from a water gun by the Germ Cop, The Germinator was defeated and cleanliness was restored to the crew and pretend flight.
"He'll be back," warned Amelia Airhead. "But remember to always wash your hands!"
The Cutest Show on Earth has seemingly been a hit with the younger crowd at the North Dakota State Fair this year, as one family has returned for each performance while at the fair.
Performances of The Cutest Show on Earth are at 12:30, 2, 3:30 and 6 p.m. at Free Stage 1 for the rest of the fair's duration.