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Fair time 2016 is fast approaching in Owatonna! The 2016 Steele County Free Fair runs August 16-21. Thousands from all over southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa will attend Minnesota’s biggest county fair. Admission to the fair is free. There are over 7,000 free exhibits including 2000 animals, the FFA Children’s Barnyard, the Community Bank/R & K Electric Petting Zoo, the Izaak Walton wild game and fish display, free entertainment on four outdoor stages and in the beer garden, 300 indoor commercial exhibits and over 200 outdoor vendors including 100 food stands.

Goldstar Amusements will provide 40 rides on the midway, plus Owatonna Motor Company is sponsoring the return of David Smith Jr., Human Cannonball, who will be fired over a midway ride daily at 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and at 2:30 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

This year marks the 90th anniversary of the Izaak Walton League in Owatonna. Saturday, August 20 the local Ikes will celebrate the anniversary at the fair. See the Buxton World Adventure Mounted Exhibit and fish native to Minnesota in the Izaak Walton building. They will issue free coloring books, offer special membership rates for a year and will have complimentary copies of the national newsletter. State President John Crampton will also be paying a visit to the Ike building that day. Special pricing on the 90th anniversary pizza cutters.

Grandstand shows: Tuesday: Great Frontier Bull Riding, 7:30 p.m.; Wednesday: Battle of the Bands, 5 p.m., followed by Chris Brooks and the Silver City Boys, 7:30 p.m..; warm-up band is Andy Calhoun and the Outlaws; Thursday: Hairball in concert, 7:30 p.m.; Friday:  Ag Power Enterprises NTPA Tractor-Truck Pull, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday: Antique Tractor Pull, 8:30 a.m.; Enduro Race, 6 p.m.; Sunday: Walzer Chevrolet of Owatonna Demolition Derby, 4 p.m.

Ride specials

The traditional ride specials will again be featured on the Gold Star Midway. Tuesday is Power 96 Radio $2.00 Tuesday with all rides priced at $2.00 each. Wednesday (Kid’s Day #1) is Serengeti Water Park Day featuring a $20.00 ride pass for unlimited midway rides from noon to 5:00. Thursday is Culver’s Moonlight Madness featuring unlimited rides from 5:00-11:00 p.m. for $22.00 or $20.00 with a coupon available at Culver’s in Owatonna. Friday is Hy-Vee Family Fun Day from noon to 5:00. An unlimited ride wrist band is $20.00. Saturday is Profinium Inc. Ride Special Day. A $22.00 pass entitles the holder to unlimited rides from noon to 5:00 plus a chance to win one of eight bikes. Sunday is Pepsi Family Day from noon to 9:30 p.m. A $22.00 pass entitles the holder to a free Pepsi and hot dog plus unlimited rides on the midway.

Mega Ride ticket

The midway Mega-Ride ticket is $49, which entitles the holder to unlimited midway rides every day of the fair. The tickets are only available at Hy-Vee in Owatonna until Tuesday, Aug. 16 at 5 p.m.

For the kids

Kid’s Days will be featured on Wednesday and Friday of fair week. Activities begin with a free kid’s show in Fair Square Park at 11:00 a.m. Our fair friend, Ronald McDonald, will be featured in the Wednesday show along with future cheerleaders from Owatonna Cheer. Friday’s show will feature Enticing Entertainment plus a visit with reptiles and snakes from Rad Zoo in Owatonna. On both days a $20 pass will entitle kids to unlimited rides from noon to 5.

Smoke free fairgrounds

The county board and the fair board have designated the fairgrounds to be smoke free. However, for the convenience of smokers during the fair, there will be designated smoking areas clearly identified in several areas of the fairgrounds.

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