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County Fair starts off ‘fairly’ hot

Heat index goes over 105 degrees for the first day of the fair

By Fiona Edberg - Staff Writer | Jul 30, 2021

Even though it was hot, people were still enjoying the rides at the Faribault County Fair.

The Faribault County Fair’s debut was scheduled for Wednesday, July 28. The festivities did not commence with a bang, but rather with a sluggish ‘uff-da’ due to oven-like temperatures and humidity.

As eager fairgoers and intrepid fair planners checked the weather for Wednesday, many were dismayed to see predicted temperatures in the upper 90s, with sweltering humidity to accompany them.

An excessive heat warning circulated, and many wondered as to the fate of the fair’s much-anticipated first day.

The first big event slated for Wednesday was the Outstanding Senior Citizen Awards, which was to take place in the Tent at 1:30 p.m.

A few audience members began to accumulate under the oak tree that shades the Tent. However, the stage, and the folding chairs set out before it, were still suspiciously deserted at 1:29 p.m. As it turns out, the event had been cancelled.

Robin Stenzel, who has been a member of the fair board for 18 years, shed light upon what happened.

“The Senior Citizen Awards were already cancelled,” she explained.

“We didn’t get any information from the State Fair,” Stenzel admitted. “Also, we were really struggling to get nominations.”

Given this turn of events, Stenzel gave a call-to-action to community members.

“If you know anybody over 70, nominate them.”

She explained there will be a form in the fair book next year for those interested in nominating a community member can use.

They can also check the Faribault County Fair’s website at www.faribaultcountyfair.com.

Apart from a lack of nominations, people around the fairgrounds speculated the weather may be too hot for elderly members of the community, anyway.

“I guess it’s extreme heat,” speculated Marilyn Stewart, of Elmore, who had been one of the few gathering under the oak tree to view the Senior Citizen Awards.

“They’ve certainly come up with a lot of nice things to have at the fair, but I guess the heat is going to affect things,” she added.

Indeed, the Outstanding Senior Citizen Awards were not the only casualty of the weather. Sugar Loom Band, which had been scheduled to play in the Tent at 2 p.m. following the awards, also failed to appear on the stage.

Stenzel shared the band, made up exclusively of senior citizens, was concerned for their health given the soaring temperatures on Wednesday.

“I had reached out to them on Sunday or Monday,” said Stenzel, who had early felt concerns for the band due to the predicted heat. “They said they’d see how it goes.”

Ultimately, Sugar Loom felt it would be wise to forego their engagement at the Faribault County Fair when Wednesday dawned hot and humid.

“Don [Pawlitschek] called about 9:30 a.m. and for health reasons, they decided to not go on in the heat,” explained Stenzel. “They were in a parade last [Tuesday] night, and they were just beat.”

Of course, there was some disappointment when news spread that a few of Wednesday’s opening events would no longer be happening.

“It’s too bad, after it all got cancelled last year,” admitted Mavis Stenzel, of Elmore.

However, it was also clear that a little heat would not deter everybody. The Faribault County Fair has its die-hard fans.

When asked what their plans were following the news of the cancellations, Stewart and Mavis Stenzel made no reference to simply heading home.

“Now that the band isn’t playing, I guess we’ll go in the buildings,” said Mavis Stenzel.

“I guess we’ll have to keep eating!” added Stewart.

Robin Stenzel further confirmed there would still be plenty to do later in the day, even if the Senior Citizen Awards and Sugar Loom’s performance were no longer taking place.

“Those are the only things that have been cancelled, as far as I know,” she shared.

The day continued, and a few more people did venture out as the afternoon wore on. It was still hot, but salty, sugary food and the community’s best artwork, produce, and livestock was plentiful around the grounds.

As promised, by 7 p.m. the rides were whizzing and spinning near the grandstand, Elvis and Son was serenading a good-sized audience, children were giving their all at the 4-H-sponsored Ag Games, and black clouds of smoke were issuing from the grandstand where the NTPA Tractor Pull was well underway.

It may have been hot, but the community was simply glad to have a reason to celebrate after 2020 brought so many disappointments and cancellations. They smiled through their sweat and welcomed in a new season of the Faribault County Fair with open arms.