A fun-filled day at the Fairgrounds
There’s no place like home.” That line was made famous by the movie The Wizard of Oz. It also describes the feelings of Blue Earth Area graduates and former area residents Joe Franta and Cassie Thompson, while searching for a place to have their wedding.
Joe, a 2011 BEA graduate, grew up in Winnebago. His parents are Mark and Mary. He has two sisters, Teresa and Anne, and three brothers, Dan, John and David.
Cassie is from Blue Earth and graduated in 2013. Her parents are Dan and Kristen and she has one sister, Lauren (Thompson) Koenecke.
“We checked out a lot of different places around Mankato,” Joe says. “But they were expensive and the majority of our friends would have to travel.”
They also considered Cassie’s parent’s farm for their June 22, 2019 wedding.
“We decided it would be too much work to get the farm ready to host a wedding,” Cassie shares. “But we really wanted to have the wedding and reception in the same place and somewhere back home.”
So, the engaged couple kept discussing different possibilities, until finally there was one idea which took root.
Have the wedding at the Faribault County Fairgrounds.
“We thought it would be nice if we could utilize the fairgrounds; there is a lot of outdoor area and the 4-H building provides a large indoor space,” Joe comments. “We had considered some other places, like Steinberg Park, but felt the fairgrounds would be the best option.”
The next problem, the couple shares, was to figure out how to rent the fairgrounds and not just a building.
“I went before the Blue Earth City Council in February of 2019 with a proposal,” Joe explains. “And they were very receptive.”
There was a desire by the city to remove some of the tenting sites, according to Joe, so their wanting to use the fairgrounds kind of got the ball rolling to get that done.
“Fire pits were filled in, grass was planted and Jamie Holland was out at the fairgrounds cutting down trees,” Joe shares.
And when the work was done the couple felt they had chosen the right spot.
“We really cannot thank the city enough for the way they worked with us,” Joe says. “They were very accommodating and helpful.”
“And it was perfect, because now we were able to have the wedding and the reception in one area,” Cassie adds.
Joe and Cassie may have both attended BEA but the couple did not start dating until after high school, according to Joe.
“Cassie’s sister Lauren and I were in the same grade,” Joe explains, “But Cassie and I did not start dating until after high school.”
The young couple both graduated from Minnesota State University-Mankato.
“I was a construction management major and Cassie majored in dental hygiene,” Joe says. “I am employed by Nielsen Blacktopping out of Kasota.”
Cassie is employed by a fellow BEA alumni.
“I work for Hyland Dental in Mankato,” Cassie says. “Amanda (Eckhardt) Hyland, a 2007 BEA graduate, is the owner.”
Joe and Cassie reside in Good Thunder.
“It is a nice little town, the drive to work is not too bad,” Joe says. “And it is not too far from home.”
And there it is again, the word home.
“We go home quite often,” Cassie comments. “And Good Thunder is not too far away.”
Their desire to have their wedding outdoors carried some risk.
“There was a chance of rain the day of our wedding but the weather was fine,” Joe remarks.
And they loved the venue.
“We wanted to have the feel of a backyard barbecue,” Cassie explains. “We had outdoor yard games and there was space for everybody to have fun and relax.”
And if part of their desire was to make it convenient for family members to attend, it worked. With the spacious outdoors as their venue, there was plenty of room for all who attended.
“We had 275 guests and all of our immediate family members were able to make it to the wedding,” Joe said.
And keeping with their “home” theme, the couple had someone very close to them perform the ceremony.
“Mark, my father, presided over our wedding,” Joe says.
With beautiful weather and surrounded by their family and friends, the couple said their vows in a place they still consider home.
“It could not have gone any better,” Cassie says.