9 Cool Things at the Fair
Some old. Some new. Some odd. Some traditional. There is no shortage of cool things to enjoy at the Steele County Fair. Most of the attractions are a once-a-year opportunity.
For the second year the KRFO Townsquare area of the fairgrounds has featured the Elmer Reseland Stage with some great kid-friendly entertainment. The Moogician along with a magician and a ventriloquist put on a series of shows that packed the seats with kids hanging on their every stunt and trick. Two nights of Deal or No Deal were fun. Contestants walked away with Twins tickets, Chanhassen tickets and camel rides among other prizes.
One of the coolest moments of all for the week came when performer Chris Hawkey brought a young girl on to the stage during his show on Thursday. He serenaded the little girl and both blew a kiss to the crowd. I'll admit I wasn't familiar with Hawkey's music but his show left me wanting more. Opening act Alexandra Kay did a great job on a selection of cover tunes along with a few original songs. Chris Kroeze from "The Voice" performed Friday night with opening act Natalie Murphy.
Fair food is a huge part of the annual experience. Each year there are a handful to new items to consider in addition to your favorites. I heard great things about the mini Dutch pancakes known as Poffertjes. Grandma's Cookies, mango strips , stoopwafles and dilly dogs were the other new items at the fair.
Along the lines of self-promotion, we had fun again this year with the ladies nail driving competition. Each day five participants battled each other to see who could pound in five nails first for a variety of fine prizes. Among the highlights was the chance to bring in a New York City girl to the quaint events of a small town fair. I invited former KRFO employee Deb Gillard to the competition. She brought along her sons girlfriends. Ali from Minneapolis and Claudia from the Big Apple put up competitive efforts in Saturday's dual against the defending champ from 2018. A new overall winner was crowned this year with Tammy Larson getting the quickest time of 21.9 seconds.
How often do you get a chance to enjoy a harp performance? The opportunity came along on Saturday in the Sacco Church in the Village of Yesteryear. Abigail Hanson and Isabel Troe played a series of songs for a full and rotating audience. External speakers allowed people sitting outside the church the chance to enjoy the show as well.
Numerous 4-H students told me that sleeping on a cow is a great thing to do. In all my years of interviewing 4-Hers at the fair I don't recall this coming up before. Lowell plopped down on his cow to show me how it's done. Another student advised me to get to know the animal before attempted to take a nap on it. After all the time on my feet during the fair, I'm searching for a good prospect now. Many people told me how much they like the new Kubicek Family Cattle Haven which is making its debut this year.
Most of these 4-Hers are thrill seekers on the midway, telling me that their favorite ride is the Zipper. While I also enjoyed rides at the county fair when I was a kid, the Zipper is something I avoided. At this point in my life, I don't think climbing into that contraption is too good an idea either.
A new attraction at the fair in 2019, the All American Stunt Dogs show, was a crowd favorite. The bleachers were packed and many people lined each side of the show in the new area that was once the north end of the racetrack. The crowd cheered on the dogs as they performed a variety of tricks and stunts. The dogs come from rescue shelters.
Having already retired from KRFO after nearly 40 years, John Connor may have made his final appearance as host of the watermelon seed spitting contest. The overall winner of the week was Tracy Duchene of the Owatonna Police Department with a spit of 38-feet, 3-inches. The other daily winners were Luverne Klecker (33-8), Patrick with Big Brothers Big Sisters (19-9), teacher/coach Tim Hunst (34-10) and city councilman Kevin Raney (37-3) who is pictured below. Connor chats with mayor Tom Kuntz (above). If Connor wants to return in 2020, the mic will be waiting.