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Thousands of vehicles cruised through the Steele County Fair Food Fest Trail over the weekend. Fair officials counted 6,143 vehicles making their way through the 15 fair food vendors. The number of calories they drove away with would take a little more calculating. It's fair to say quite a few went through more than once.

Fair manager Scott Kozelka joined the AM 1390 KRFO Talk of the Town program Monday morning and said, "That's amazing." The event turned out great after needing to be "tweaked" in the days leading up to the three days August 21-23.

"We put a plan together. As everyone knows due to all the rules and regulations of our state and federal government, we had to tweak it back." Rules only allow for 250 people to attend outdoor events at the current time.

"I did not see one frown this weekend...everyone came through the fairgrounds as of last night (Sunday, August 23) when we closed the gates at 6:00 with great weather...great volunteers, our board of directors. All 17 members of our board were out there at some time this weekend." A few were out their for the entire time, "every hour of the event. So that's what makes it fun and special...They got to see those smiles."

"An amazing event...I just want to thank our board of directors, our staff, our grounds crew, our vendors. We had volunteers out there. People that have nothing to do with the fair, but wanted to volunteer for this event. And the residents of Steele County and the City of Owatonna."

Kozelka said he reviewed some social media posts afterward and indicated the reaction was very positive. He also pointed out a couple of silver linings to the way things happened.

Some senior citizens who have not able to attend the fair due to limited mobility or other concerns in recent years were able to go through the drive thru. Kozelka and other fair board members were able to watch some of the 4-H shows, where, under normal circumstances, they are too busy with items related to the fair.

He said the wait at food booths wasn't any longer than if the fair had been held as normal. And that people were sitting in their air-conditioned cars to pass the time. One vendor, Ole and Lena's, ran out of food and had to miss Sunday.

The 4-H Showcase ran for about a week, finishing up on Thursday, August 20. "Everyone had a great time. The kids were thankful that they were able to show. They had some fun out there...Everyone worked together and they got a great show off."

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Kozelka announced the slogan for 2021, "Bringing Back the Fun in 2021," August 17-22, 2021.


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