Fair Fest to replace Steele County Fair this year
While COVID-19 has shuttered nearly every county fair and even the state fair in Minnesota for this year, Steele County isn’t about to go without anything to satisfy at least some fair goers who have a hankering for fair food.
The Steele County Fair plans to hold “Fair Fest” on four of the days when the fair would normally be operating in August, according to Scott Kozelka, fair manager. Fair Fest will run Thursday-Sunday, Aug. 20-23 on the Steele County Fairgrounds in Owatonna.
Kozelka said Fair Fest will feature “not more than 20 food vendors” scattered throughout the fairgrounds. He is still in the process of finalizing the list of vendors that will be at the festival, but Kozelka assures everyone that there will be mixture offered in the choices. “I want to have a variety instead of having seven cheese curd stands,” he said.
“We’re trying to salvage the little parts that we can to help the vendors,” Kozelka said. “We’re here to help—we help them, they help us,” he said of the vendors.
The idea comes after the fair allowed the Steele County American Dairy Association to hold a Drive-In Dairy Days in late June to replace its annual Breakfast on the Farm event. The two-day event, which offered 11 food vendors, proved to be a huge success, Kozelka said. He added there were also seven food vendors the following weekend for the city’s Fourth of July fireworks celebration.
Unlike the two earlier events, the vendors will be more spread out around the fairgrounds for Fair Fest, Kozelka said. The fair will be following social distancing guidelines throughout Fair Fest.
There may be a couple smaller twists added to Fair Fest, but generally the food vendors will be it.
“It’s a shame we’re not having a fair this year,” Kozelka acknowledges.
But he’s trying to keep a positive outlook on everything. When he spoke to this writer last Thursday, he grinned by saying, “It’s only 396 days until the fair.” He emphasized how glad he was to see it under the 400-day mark.
More information will be coming out in the next few weeks regarding this year’s Fair Fest.