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Despite heat, rain; fair a success

Saturday was the big day with crowds at all the special events

By Fiona Edberg - Staff Writer | Aug 8, 2021

There was a big tractor pull in the Grandstand, a kiddie tractor pull on the fairgrounds and even a tractor parade, but for this young fairgoer, the best thing was sitting on a tractor and pretending to drive it all around.

Wednesday brought rising temperatures and Friday brought rain, but Faribault County Fair attendees came from near and far to visit this year’s fair, which took place from July 28 through July 31.

Wednesday’s smoldering heat and humidity still produced a decent smattering of attendees, and Friday’s precipitation certainly did not quench the desire to attend for many.

“There were still people walking around with umbrellas, and the die-hard fairgoers were there,” says Robin Stenzel, a member of the Fair Board.

However, fine and sunny weather on Saturday brought a particularly enthusiastic crowd.

“Saturday was a fantastic turn-out for the fair. I’ve never seen so many people,” recalls Carolyn Zierke, operater of the fair’s Flea JUNKtion attraction.

Stenzel confirms an impressive attendance on the fair’s final day.

“It’s really hard for us to get a solid number for attendance because we do charts by the car, not by person,” admits Stenzel. “But based on the parking lot, we did pretty good.”

She adds, “There were a lot of people out and about. The midway was pretty full for awhile, and kids seemed to be having fun.”

The fair commenced with a few unexpected cancellations when the Outstanding Senior Citizen Awards and Sugar Loom Band failed to appear in the Tent on Wednesday afternoon.

However, it quickly made up for these small disappointments with a smorgasbord of attractions throughout the week.

When asked what some of the most popular attractions were, Stenzel replied, “The All-American Lumberjacks. They had pretty cool shows pretty much all of the time. They do a really good job.”

She added other popular attractions around the grounds included Chaz the Magician, Balloon Artistry by Mandana, and Wanda the Clown.

One attraction which always proves popular at the Faribault County Fair is the Flea JUNKtion, which Zierke proudly organizes every year.

“It’s a flea market, but it’s more than a flea market,” explains Zierke. “It’s an artisan craft market. It has something for everybody.”

As Zierke names some of the items pedaled in the market, it becomes apparent she is telling the truth.

“There is a lot of furniture, handcrafted items, custom printed T-shirts, earrings,” she says.

“I had a lot of boho this year,” she adds. “There were some girls from Minneapolis who did some boho macrame furniture.”

Overall, Zierke asserts she seeks out “a variety of things” to offer to her patrons.

 The intersection of Interstate 90 and Highway 169, at which the Faribault County Fair is nestled, inspired Zierke to craft the name ‘Flea JUNKtion.’ The fair’s location near the interstate is appropriate to its surprisingly varied array of visitors.

Zierke, who hosted visitors during fair week, was astounded at the number of people who had traveled miles for the event.

“I had women from Benson, from Annandale, from Sioux Falls, from Des Moines,” relates Zierke. “I was just surprised how many people drove hours to come to the fair.”

The Faribault County Fair’s annual attendees are no doubt already looking forward to what the event will have in store next summer.

Stenzel explains it is “a little early” to declare what next year’s fair will bring. However, she identified some favorite attractions she hopes will be returning to Faribault County.

“We always try to mix things up a little bit, but we definitely are looking at Chaz the Magician. He always is a good, popular attraction,” says Stenzel.

She clarifies, however, “We haven’t made any decisions for sure yet. We’re just going to meet in August and start talking about it again.”

As always, the success of the fair can be attributed to an enthusiastic, hardworking Fair Board as well as volunteers who are equally so.

“We cannot stress enough the wonderful volunteers that we had step up,” says Stenzel. “We weren’t sure we’d be able to have an open class until April, and then everybody stepped up and they did a wonderful job.”

She adds, “We’re very lucky to have the people we have in this county.”