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I sure love going to the county fair

By Chuck Hunt - Editor | Jul 25, 2021

Well, this is it. After missing last year, the Faribault County Fair is back. It is the 160th time a county fair has been held here in our county.

The 160th edition of the fair was supposed to be last year, but then, we all know about why that fair never happened. So, this year’s fair is the 160th.

It was not the first time the fair was canceled due to a health concern about a virus. In 1946 the fair was canceled due to concerns about the spread of polio.

I have found it interesting that in its early years, the Faribault County Fair was moved from town to town, including Blue Earth, Winnebago, Wells and Delavan. Yes, Delavan, in 1872.

For a number of years in the 1880s, Blue Earth and Winnebago both held a Faribault County Fair, one week after the other, in September.

For four years (1890-1893) the fair was held in three cities – Wells, Winnebago and Blue Earth. It was sort of considered one fair that lasted for nine days. It involved having races in each of the towns. The races were horse races, but they also had donkey and pig races for more entertainment. Really.

In 1900 the fair was in Blue Earth only, with a planned Winnebago fair being canceled. It stayed just in Blue Earth after that, for the next 120 years.

I love the fair. And, I hate the fair. Not just the fair in Faribault County, but other county fairs as well.

I guess you could say I have a love/hate relationship with the fair.

I have gone to a county fair every single year for the past 50 years. Well, except for last year. (See note above about some pandemic thing canceling the fair.)

When I grew up I never went to a county fair. I am not sure there was such a thing in San Diego or Denver where I spent my growing up years.

It wasn’t until I was a college intern at the Lake Region Life newspaper in Waterville that I learned about county fairs. I got sent to go cover the Le Sueur County Fair in Le Center.

After that I owned the newspaper in Enderlin (Ransom County), North Dakota, and went and covered the Ransom County Fair which was held in Lisbon, North Dakota, the county seat.

From there it was back to Waterville and covering the Le Sueur County Fair for a few more years.

Then it was on to the Lincoln County Fair in Tyler, Minnesota for 22 years.

And now, of course, I’ve been going to the Farbault County Fair each year, since 2008.

Trust me, folks, none of these fairs were very big. The Faribault County Fair is by far the largest. And, it has the most beautiful setting of any of them. It also seems to have many more things going on each day than any of the others.

I mean, each day has something constantly going on somewhere – in the Tent all day long, around the grounds here and there, something in a building or a barn or the 4-H arena or the horse arena or the grandstand, or, well you get the idea.

Photographers from the Register (me included) head to the fair each day to take some photos of some event, and before we leave we discover something else going on to photograph, then something else, well, again, you get the idea.

I love going to the fair. But to be perfectly honest, it could be the food that is the main draw for me. But, I also hate going to the fair because I know that while I am there having a good time, my work is waiting for me back at the office.

For some reason, we are still expected to produce a newspaper, even though it is fair week.

Saturday is a different story. No office work to go back to. I have been known to go to the fair to take photos Saturday morning and not come back until nightfall. Or later.

I wonder how many photos I have taken of demolition derbys, tractor pulls, 4-H animal shows, singers and entertainers.

The answer is lots. My guess is that the reporter/photographers at the Register will average (total together) about 100-200 pictures per day of the fair. That would be 400-800 total.

And we will run 30-40 or so in the newspaper, tops. Maybe.

So, my wish is aways that everything goes well for the fair, and that there will good weather and big crowds.

I hope to see you there. I’ll be the guy with a camera slung around my neck.

And eating something.

Cheese curds at the 4-H building, tacos at the Mexican stand, beef sandwiches and pie at the Trinity food stand, barbeque at the BBQ stand, onion rings wherever they can be found, milk shakes at the Dairy Association stand (limit one per day for me) and, well, I think you get the idea.

So, all in all, I guess I really don’t hate going to the county fair. I must not, because I keep going back.

Now, the State Fair is something else. Too many people, too hot, too many people, no parking, too many people…

But, oh, the food. Yum!