Babies breezing by

Parents waved stuffed animals, bottles, candy and pacifiers while their babies and toddlers crawled or scampered gleefully across the race mat to the finish line. Or not.

The diaper derby and toddler trot at the North Dakota State Fair Tuesday was a mix of humor, frustration and excitement for family and spectators, and more often than not, just plain befuddlement for competitors.

In its second consecutive year of children’s races, the State Fair saw the maximum number of entries in the toddler trot at 36 1- and 2-year-olds. There were six babies younger than a year old who raced in the diaper derby.

Rules were that the babies had to crawl to the finish line, while toddlers had to walk in their event. A parent or family member could encourage the child at the starting line while another urged the child on from the finish line. However, an entrant would be disqualified if a parent or guardian stepped onto the race mat or touched the child.

Nine-month-old Vivian Timochtchenko of Joplin, Mo., won the finals of the diaper derby after watching the other finalist, Ethan Lawson of Minot, crawl within a couple feet of his father at the finish line before refusing to budge. Vivian took that as a sign that it was her turn, crawling across the mat into her mother’s arms.

“I thought she wasn’t going to go anywhere because I didn’t think she saw me,” Lacey Timochtchenko, a Minot native, said of her daughter. Vivian not only saw her mother but also the edible treats she held out, which her mom said was the likely secret to the win.

Some of the toddlers also seemed more content to stay at the starting line or wander off in their own world. A few shed tears as they waited at the start, although that didn’t mean they didn’t want to run. It was obvious that one crying youngster preferred to be at the finish line, taking off like a streak once released to both win her heat and put a big smile on her face.

Kellen Laskowski, 21 months, of Minot won his heat and the finals after out-racing some pretty good sprinters. His father, Paul, said Kellen’s win wasn’t surprising.

“He runs wherever he goes,” he said. “He’s just unbelievably active. He’s always been that way. It’s hard to keep up with him, but he’s fun.”

The winners received gift baskets from Town & Country Credit Union and the State Fair. Toddler finalists received bouncing balls, and baby finalists received State Fair bibs. All participants received gifts from the credit union that included a coloring book, crayons and a $25 savings bond.