How does the biggest Minnesota county fair open?
Patriotism was front and center at the opening of Minnesota’s largest county fair in the state. The Steele County Free Fair opened Aug. 16 with the Owatonna Knights of Columbus singing a series of songs that both uplifted and inspired the fair-goers and christened the upcoming festivities.
From their first rendition of “This Land Is Your Land” to the final tune, “God Bless America,” the crowds cheered, applauded and wiped away a tear or two.
The color guards from Blooming Prairie, Ellendale, Owatonna brought forth the flags and the VFW auxiliary presented SCFF board president Dan Deml with both an American flag and a POW-MIA flag which were both raised by an honor guard to the flag pole at the central hub of the Steele County Fairgrounds.
The crowd was invited to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance and asked to remain standing and sing together the Star Spangled Banner.
The Voice of Democracy winner for the State of Minnesota this year was 17 year-old Medford student, Rachel Bluhm, who read her award winning speech entitled, “A Young Vision For America.” It reads as follows:
“What is becoming of America? This is what I hear on the news, at school in history class, and from elders at church. These people may not know what the future of America holds, but I have an idea. The future America that I see is filled with prosperity; a land that our founding fathers would truly hold pride in. I envision a strong nation that upholds standards of freedom and justice for all.
A country that can defend themselves and their people against any opposing force and assist those who are weak. My vision of America, although it may be different than what others see, is how I believe the future will be.
I envision an America that would satisfy our founding fathers. In this future nation, the constitution is the law of the land and it lays out how the country will be governed. The Amendments of the Constitution are followed closely. The laws are upheld and violators are prosecuted. The people are all treated as equals and there is no discrimination against those of different races, sexual orientation, gender, or religion. This America allows women and men to be paid equal wages and to have equal employment opportunities. Not only do the lawmakers follow the Constitution, but the people of America do as well.
In my vision, all of the people have morals. Parents raise their children with ethics so that they can determine the right from the wrong. This America is peaceful and the amount of crime is minimal. The people are kind to each other and are proud to be American. They also have pride in how America has excelled since establishment and the people who have helped us get there.
This country has a strong military, a military that could defend themselves against any enemy. The men and women are strong and committed to protecting our nation. The Americans are thankful and appreciate the soldiers and their hard work. The United States would go through other changes as well.
Saving energy is important in my vision. In the future, non¬renewable sources of energy, such as coal and gasoline, are no longer used. Instead, clean energy is the main focus. Solar, wind, water, and other renewable sources are the power for majority of America.
This would result in a cleaner and healthier planet. Compared to fossil fuel technologies, which are usually mechanical, the renewable energy industry is more labor¬intensive. Thus, renewable energy sources would create and sustain more jobs for the Americans.
This is my vision of America. I believe in the future there will be equality for everyone and that the Constitution will be followed closely. The crime rate will decrease and the military power will increase. The country will also move toward renewable energy sources. These are just some of the reasons why I have an optimistic vision of our nation.”
Following her speech, the men’s chorus broke into a medley of military anthems featuring all branches of the military as the color guard presented the respective military flag.
The grand finale was the song, “God Bless America” as the audience was called to join hands in a unified prayer in song for America. The entire ceremony can be seen at the Steele County Times Facebook page or at: youtube.com/watch?v=18i840MCT30
Shortly after the ceremonies concluded, the much anticipated announcement of the new SCFF mascot was unveiled complete with a story of how it came to be. Many know well, the mascots Stella and Steely who have graced the SCFF for many years.
This year with a new twist, it was revealed that Stella and Steely had many years ago, adopted a son in Texas who went on to join the Texas Rangers in the campaign against cattle rustling. His name was Stanley and he was concealed from the public and the paparazzi due to the nature of his work. He remained incognito until his revealing at this year’s fair, where he was reunited with his adopted parents to live happily-ever-after with them in the friendly confines of Owatonna.
The great mascot reveal can be seen in its completion at the Steele County Times Facebook page or at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SusmI4VeHqs.