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County fair gets thumbs up

By Staff | Jul 26, 2008

This is fair week in Faribault County and I have logged a few hours there checking it out and snapping some photos.

This is the 148th edition of the fair, held in Blue Earth, but it was my first one.

In the past several weeks I had heard comments about the county fair. Some folks were eagerly awaiting its arrival date. Others complained that it was too small, smelly and dirty.

I looked forward to seeing it and judging for myself. And if you want to know what I think, it was a ‘fairly’ terrific fair.

First off, there were a lot of things going on, each and every day. One of the fair board members said they had a goal this year of doing more events, big and small, all over the fairgrounds. I think they succeeded. Every evening there was something starting up every half hour or so.

Secondly, the grandstand shows were entertaining and had good-sized crowds each night, at least at the time this column was written on Thursday.

True, there wasn’t a big-name headliner act. We asked our readers how they felt about that fact in our weekly online poll last week. You can see how they reacted elsewhere on this page. Of course, to be fair, we should have also asked, “Would you be willing to shell out some real cash to see this big-name act.” I’m sure tickets to it would probably not be $5 or even $10 but much higher.

Starting right out on the first night of the fair, Monday, I caught the Motokazie races at the grandstand. I was impressed. I had expected dirt-bike racing. I had not expected the amount of speed and giant jumps that went with it.

The fair board members were also impressed and say they will try and get them back next year, and move them to a later night in the week.

The talent show Tuesday was like many other talent shows, including ‘American Idol.’ Some of the acts were very good, and some were not so good. Overall, though, it made for an entertaining show.

A new act at the fair this year was the ‘All-American Lumberjack Show.’ You probably saw it if you were at the fair, because they put on two shows a day for three days, right next to the grandstand.

Unfortunately one of their performances was during the ‘Red Lipstick’ band concert in the grandstand on Wednesday night.

Instead of competition between lumberjacks, it was between amped up guitars and juiced up chainsaws. I’m not sure who won, but the crowd’s eardrums lost.

Several people at the fair asked me if I was going to write a review of the food. I hate to single any one vendor out, and most fair goers have their favorites anyway. One board member says he has to have a milkshake every day. I can’t say that I blame him. My favorite so far are the onion rings at a Bricelyn stand.

Two things have been impressive this week at the fair; the displays by the Faribault County Historical Society and the Norwegian Fjord Horse Show. Both have dedicated people willing to do the hours of work to put on the event. Both also add a lot to this fair, giving people more to see and do.

Now for the least impressive item at the fair – the carnival rides. Before the blow-up rides came on Wednesday, there were only five with the carnival. On Tuesday night my 4-year-old grandson wanted to go on the rides. Two of them were too small for him, and he was too small for another two.

That left one; the small Ferris wheel. He had to have an adult ride with him on it, which was fine. It took four tickets for him to ride, four for the adult. With tickets at a buck each, that was an eight dollar ride.

To be fair, the kids were lined up Wednesday night for all the inflatable rides in front of the grandstand, and they seemed to be having a very good time on them.

But I, like many others, remember the good old days of the big carnival midway at the county fairs. Carnivals like that are getting to be fewer and fewer, and harder to book for a small town. That’s a shame.

All in all I give the fair a thumbs up review. Probably the best thing about it is the people. Just as the State Fair is billed as the ‘Great Minnesota Get-together,’ the Faribault County Fair could be called the ‘Great County Get-together’ We saw many people just visiting with their friends and neighbors.

Fair week is a lot of fun, but it also takes hard work by a huge number of people. Besides the folks who organize putting on all the events, there are those volunteer ticket takers at the gates and the grandstand, the workers in the food stands, the people helping run each program.

Finding enough volunteers to run a food stand, for instance, is getting harder to do. One stand which was at the fair for many years has closed, simply because there are not enough folks to staff it for six days.

By Saturday night, there were many tired people in the county. They deserved a day of rest.

But if the fair is counted as a success it will be worth it. And I think you can definitely put this one in the success column.