Sun Finally Shines on Steele County Fair
Residents practically stormed the fairgrounds in Owatonna when the rain finally stopped early Friday afternoon and the sun came out. Sunglasses were propped up on most noses as the weekend of the Steele County Fair got underway with spectacular weather. However the soggy conditions created by three days of rain forced the cancellation of Friday night's truck and tractor pull and Saturday morning's antique tractor pull.
Rain fell on Owatonna educators as they battled for the daily title of watermelon seed spitting champion at the KRFO stage. New OHS assistant principal Chris Moore won the day with a spit of 31 feet, 4 inches. Politicians took their best shot Saturday. City councilman Kevin Raney won the daily honor but couldn't top Owatonna policeman Travis Johnson and his 34-foot-9-inch projectile. Other theme days for watermelon seed spitting highlighted fraternal organizations and nonprofits.
DeKam and Johnson enjoyed a brightening sky for their performance on the KRFO stage and signaled the end of the rain for this year's fair. A variety of Saturday entertainment saw great crowds at the KRFO stage, including Credit Report, Stanley Koslosky Band, Greta Jacobson, American Pie and Lisa Murphy, the singing cowgirl.
Friday night included a presentation from Youth 1st of Owatonna to the sportsmanship award-winning teams from the youth baseball season. 2013 Owatonna High School graduate Matt Ratzloff, who was diagnosed with cancer early this year, addressed the large crowd. He talked of how the ideals and attitudes that he learned in youth sports have helped in his battle against leukemia. He has stayed positive during the treatment and vows to never give up. A fundraiser for Ratzloff will be Saturday, August 26, at the Owatonna VFW from 4-8PM. Among the awards presented was the parent volunteer of the year to Amanda Evans and the umpire service award to Derek Thada.
Huge crowds filled Fair Square Park to sample fair food and listen to performances on the United Prairie Bank stage. The fair office announced the winners of Sunday's talent show. Julia Dallenbach of Owatonna won the teen division with a lyrical dance. Jenna Klecker of Owatonna won the preteen division with a hip-hop dance. The open division went to Dave Granlund of Medford, who did a vocal solo with acoustic guitar. Each winner earned $75 and a chance to play at the Minnesota State Fair.
The annual ladies nail driving title came down to about a 1 second difference. Saturday's winner Rhonda Koeck drove her five nails into a board in 24.21 seconds. Friday's winner Annette Balzer had a time of 25.80. Several contestants were first-timers this year, including one who claimed to have never swung a hammer before.
KDHL Radio recognized Keith Schrader of Nerstrand as the Southern Minnesota Ag Ambassador of the year during a Saturday night presentation. The other finalists were Eugene Larson of Ellendale and Gary Thome from Adams.
4-H students continued to tend their animals and participate in shows through the weekend. KRFO interviews included high school students who have shown for a decade or more and young elementary kids in their first year of 4-H. A common theme in the interviews was a joy of working with animals, whether they lived on a farm or not, and the friendships formed with other 4-Hers.