County Fairs Not to Miss this Summer

May 31, 2019

The county fair, like Christmas, arrives just once a year. And like Christmas, it requires colossal advanced preparation, it’s shadowed by a rowdy surge of jollity and silliness, and then it’s over and life snaps back to reality.

County fairs unite people. Friends and neighbors gather for a few days of carnival rides, competitions, lots of food and loads of fun. The stakes in attending the county fair are generally very low: You might win $2 for exhibiting a first-place slice of pumpkin pie or hand-knit sweater, but the prestige that accompanies that humble blue ribbon goes a lot deeper than you might think. And whether you’re exhibiting your own livestock or simply admiring all the animals, livestock shows are a definite highlight of any county fair. By strolling through the various livestock buildings and show rings, you can expect to encounter all kinds of animals, ranging from horses and cows to rabbits and chickens, or goats and sheep. Of course, at the county fair, you can find an assortment of foods that are unlike those you can find anywhere else – at least not on a whim. Mounds of cotton candy in colors not naturally found in food? Things on a stick that may or may not be moving? Chicken-Fried Bacon? Deep-Fried Kool Aid? Fried Pickles and Chocolate? Hot Beef Sundae? Spaghetti Ice Cream? Chocolate Covered Scorpions? Sauteed Worms? Donut Burgers? Elephant Ears? LET’S DO THIS!


The Dodge County Free Fair is celebrating its 162nd county fair in Kasson, July 17-21. Since it is Minnesota’s oldest county fair, you can expect some good old county fair entertainment, like bull riding, stock car racing, tractor and truck pulls, antique tractor pull, demolition derby, and the newest addition, trailer races. Too, you can take in the 4-H, FFA and open class exhibits and shows, carnival rides, commercial exhibits, food, music, such as Dueling Pianos; milking cow and pie baking competitions, and much more! Also new this year is the Little Farmer’s Barn. This is an interactive and creative Barn that teaches little kids about agriculture and horticulture through games and activities. On Sunday afternoon, it’s Dodge Mayhem! This hilarious crowd-pleasing event is the biggest draw of the week. Watch full-size cars, trucks, mid-size and mini class vehicles; pulling trailers, campers, boats, etc., maneuvering around the track, some with appliances placed on the vehicles. Mark your calendars for July 17-21, to attend the State’s oldest county fair in Kasson.


Cannon Valley Fair celebrates its 104th annual fair this summer. “We started in 1915 to give the community an opportunity to compete in their agriculture accomplishments and their entertainment talents. This is still our goal,” stated Fair Treasurer Phyllis Althoff. Some events include open class, 4H and FFA competitions in food, handicrafts and livestock. The Fair features exciting grandstand events such as: Demo Derby (a sell out each year), Truck and Tractor Pull, Combine Derby (also an historic sell out) and Harness Horse Racing. Music is a big part of the celebration and many bands are highlighted on the free stage. Goldstar Amusements are on the grounds offering carnival rides and games. Of course, it wouldn’t be a fair without the traditional food available. The entire celebration culminates with a spectacular firework display on July 4th at dusk.


Come and enjoy the Rice County Fair in Faribault, MN. The fairgrounds are located at 1814 2nd Ave. NW in Faribault. “The fair rolls out on Tuesday evening with the Rice County Fair Ambassador Coronation; followed by a concert featuring the Faribault Community Band,” said Fair Manager John Dvorak. There is free entertainment provided every night on the Sellar Stage: Wednesday night is The Jolly P’s, Thursday night is the White Sidewalls, Friday night is Bob and the Beach Combers and Saturday night is the La Raza de Mexico Band. Grandstand entertainment includes Wednesday night, Enduro Racing, Thursday evening, Barnes PRCA Rodeo, Saturday night, NTPA Truck and Tractor Pull, and Sunday afternoon, the Demo Derby. Beer Garden entertainment includes Thursday night, Devon Worley, Friday night, Chad Johnson, and Saturday night, Mister Peabody. The Rice County Fair is a free fair with a paid grandstand. There is a $7 charge to park your vehicle.


The Olmsted County Free Fair is the 2nd largest county fair in the state and is unique in the fact that it is a fair that brings city and country together. A few key things: Concert offerings are expanding this year, with three nights of live music; July 23rd, National Rock Act TBA; July 24th, Lee Brice w/ Ryan Hurd; July 25th, Nelly w/Brother Ali. Popular things that are back: Compeer Miracle of Birth Center; Petting Zoo; Fish Tanks in the Conservation Building; Goldstar Amusements; All the Animal Shows (4H, FFA, Open Class); Bull Riding; Autocross and Demo Derby; Some of the new features being added are Laser Tag and Color Wall.


The Wabasha County Fair boasts multiple animal exhibits for people to see and learn about. Additionally, they have horticultural, mechanical, and other types of exhibits on display. For more kids and family entertainment, there are inflatables, minnow races, power wheel races, and a human foosball. Thursday is Senior Citizen Day, and Family Fun Night. Friday is Auto Cross Race, Talent Show, DJ/beer tent, and the Craft/Vendor sale. Saturday; Demo Derby, Bean Bag Tournament, Pedal Pull for kids, and Craft/Vendor Sale. “This year we are excited to have the Los Moralitos Circus throughout the duration of the fair. Also, the Virtual Reality and Gaming Center returns,” explained Robert Sexton, Wabasha Co.


Great things are made to last. The Steele County Free Fair is the largest county fair in Minnesota and welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. You’ll discover a wide variety of events and attractions, and admission is free. Highlights: Seven Grandstand Shows including Chris Kroeze Concert – Friday Night; Chris Hawkey Concert – Thursday Night; Live band in the Beer Garden each night; all-week Mega Ride special; Daily Special Attractions including: Stunt Dog Show; Cannonball; Moogician; Wood Carver; Pig Races. There are more than 40 midway rides from GoldStar Amusements, as well as attractions in the Grandstand. It’s fun to browse through the crafts and vendors so you can walk away with a souvenir to go along with your fantastic memories.


Waseca County Free Fair – Waseca, MN; July 17-21; highlights include Bull Riding, Demo Derby, Central Minnes Tractor Pull and the Enduro Auto Race.

Winona County Fair – St. Charles; July 10-14; highlights include Antique Tractor Parade, Flat Track Motorcycle Racing, Demolition Derby.

Blue Earth County Fair – Garden City, MN; July 25-28; highlights include Amateur Talent Show, Truck/Tractor Pull, Compact Car Races, Demolition Derby, Kids Power Wheel Race.

Dakota County Fair – Farmington; August 5-11; highlights include Dairyland Donkey Races, Kids Mutton Busting and Barrel Races, Bulls & Barrels Rodeo, Demolition Derby, Hula Hoop performers, Magic Show, Bird-Calling Competition, and much more.



By Pat Garry, Contributing Writer

SouthernMinn Scene | |
115 5th Street West Northfield, MN 55057