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The fairs – Olmsted, Freeborn, Mower, Steele County and Minnesota State Fair – will all soon be upon us and though they've changed like everything else, they have in many ways stayed the same.

The true value of a good fair is the meetings of friends, neighbors and relatives we may see every day or maybe only once a year at the fair. Maybe a wedding, funeral, graduation or confirmation brings out family and friends to converse with, but nothing is like seeing them at the fair.

Fair time always reminds me of my cousin Monty, who for years planned his vacation during the Steele County Fair because it was his best chance of seeing everyone he wanted to see while he was back home, here in Minnesota.

There are those who wait for the fair because it smells so good due to the great foods you don't usually make at home. Many people go to the fair so that they can eat. I think there is even a bus during one of the local fairs that will bring working people to the fair on their noon hour so they can enjoy all the great "fair food." Things like cotton candy, foot longs, corn dogs, mini doughnuts, turkey drumsticks, corn on the cob, slices of pizza, brats, etc., as well as great malts that you just can't seem to find any other place.

Of course, there are always those who go to the fair to admire the animals and livestock. Years ago many "kids from the farm" helped raise animals and brought them to the fair and exhibited them as part of the 4-H program.

These things were knowledgeable to the kid on a diversified farm but there are not many any more who know a great deal about farm animals. In this day and age the kids are apt to be more interested in the carnival rides – not so for those who are exhibiting livestock or participate in the horse shows. They are too busy washing, walking and grooming those animals. Spare time at the fair is spent in cleaning out stalls or keeping their animals clean and ready to show.

Machinery Hill is almost no more but there are still enough exhibits to attract the farming crew. The fair always has a great display of sport type items, including the RVs, four-wheelers, campers and boats. Don't ask me much about the carnival. That has never been my passion but I know how excited some kids can get to when they think they can go on all the rides on "kids’ day" or participate in “wristband day" and are able to ride at reduced prices.

Many of those that attend the fair always have to visit the 4-H building to see what the youth of the county have brought to the fair. There may not be as many 4-H members as there were in the 50s, 60s and 70s; many of the projects are different than in those early years and now include more than just farm type entries, but there are still 4-H entries to admire and a wider range of projects to explore.

Flowers and garden vegetable items are viewed with an eye as to how they compare with one’s own garden. There is also the "so and so" who sew, knit, quilt or stitch heirloom tapestries. Creativity is always to be admired and are displayed in the "women's buildings.”

Some people go to the fair to see what the latest new products are. There always seems to be something new to make a place among the old standbys of kitchenware, vacuums, Watkins products etc. Other fairgoers enjoy visiting the fish and game building, the car shows and historical displays.   And for many their main emphasis in going to the fair is going to the grandstand shows or to the talent shows and musical presentations.

Heritage Square always attracts attention and historical societies are to be commended for their interest and hard work in restoring and displaying everything from log cabins to old grocery stores (with some of their contents) and churches.

We can't forget all the politicians who come out to the fair to meet and greet people in hopes of getting their vote come November.

The Minnesota State Fair is known as the "Great Minnesota Get Together." I guess that can be said about county fairs too. No matter where you are at, or what you are looking at, you will see somebody you know.

I hope you will take a little bit of time to attend one of the "Great Minnesota Get Togethers" and have a great time taking in all the sites and enjoy all the great food and the educational experience for children and adults alike. It isn't just a carnival – it is a community experience.

The recent historical open house at Owatonna proved to be a great adventure for children who enjoy participating in living history. You can also find this at the fair. 

See you at the fair - another reason why we choose to live here.

This week’s birthdays and anniversaries include:

• Thursday, July 31st: Zane Andrew Miller, Michelle Eaker Stevens, Coni Misgen Evenson, Lorie Paulson, Joan Mast, Brian & Pam Muri

• Friday, August 1st: Parker Brant Simon, Wendy Schultz, Dale Mrotz, Karen Vaith, Stanley Jensen, Lonny Thostenson, Tad Cornelius, Karen Brockman, Rick Christensen, Larry & Carol Spear

• Saturday, August 2nd: Kolten Aaron Michael Hanson, Tara Cromwell Lembke, Cole Lehmberg, Vivian Dulas, Cora Lynn Harpel, Ryan Nelson, Scott Sommers, George Wangsness Jr., Carol Lein, Melissa Marlin

• Sunday, August 3rd: Arianna Elizabeth Pence/Ortiz, Jo Lerberg, Kristine Dummer, Cynthia Nelson, Kent Swearingen, Jean Molenaar, Matthew Wayne, Nicholas Wayne, Gerald Flugum

• Monday, August 4th: Madysen Grace Waage, Karen Edwardson Loge, Harold Jensen, Bryce Ingvaldson, Terry Vaith, Ryan Wangsness, Michael Hanson, Tom Lang, Bethany Cooper, Rachel Reichl, Gary & Kathy Reichl, Warren & Ilsbeth Wayne

• Tuesday, August 5th: Wayne Schimek, Corey Wangsness, Gabriella Lynn Olson, Gladys Johnson, John Ramlo, Annette Thostenson, Jennifer Broskoff Dutton, Andrea & Kane Malo, Christopher & Kristen Hanson

• Wednesday, August 6th: Lynn Nechanicky, Rick Cook, Matthew Miller, Andy & Mary Lerberg, Wendell & Connie Kuehni

Sending you heartfelt wishes for a great day!

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