Ag. Society’s barn project recipient of new Farm to Table event in September

Jordan Gerard

The Houston County Agricultural Society learned the new barn project will receive a donation from a new event featuring locally raised food in September.

At the regular meeting on April 28, Marion Gavin, Polly Heberlein and another lady brought news of a “Farm to Table” dinner event on Sept. 14 in Caledonia at the fairgrounds.

“We’ll be showcasing locally grown food while raising money for a good community cause,” Heberlein said in a written statement. “The donation for this year is the new barn building. We hope it will be an annual event.”

The group got the idea from St. Charles, which hosts a similar event. Food will come from area farmers, as close to Caledonia as possible. Milk will come from Caledonia Haulers, of course. 

Only 100 tickets will be sold. Tickets will be available starting July 14 at Wired Rooster in Caledonia. Cost is $50 and the event is ages 21 and older. 

The meal will include appetizers, salad, locally sourced meal, pumpkin or apple pies, a wine or beer ticket (milk and water available) and music. Part of the ticket sales will be the donation for the new building.

“It’s going to be local people, local food, local fun,” Gavin said.

Gavin added that many businesses and individuals have already shown support for the event, including Houston County Cattlemen, Street Scapes, Thrivent Financial Group, Sno Pac Foods and more.

The group also received a community grant from AcenTek.

The group asked if one of the buildings on the fairgrounds could be used. The board approved the use of the commercial building and anything else on the fairgrounds they needed as long as it didn’t interfere with the 4-H Goat Show, also taking place that weekend.

The board also agreed to provide informational flyers and materials at the event to garner support for the building.

They did not need to provide insurance for the event, as the organizers already had that taken care of. They would be able to serve a full bar through a local business who already has a liquor license.

Demolition derby

A representative for the demolition derby asked the board if the track for the demolition derby could be set up ahead of time in June or July when the ground is the driest in order to prevent destroying the track.

He also said Andy Allen Construction would tear out the guardrail and essentially “remodel” the track.

The board approved him to host the demolition derby for $3,500, with the fair board providing the trophies, payouts and ribbons this year. 

He also suggested the board lock the back gates to the pit this year in order to prevent loss on ticket sales, as people are able to walk in and watch the derby from there without buying a ticket.

He added the Houston County Fair is the only fair in Minnesota that still runs a derby for modified cars. It’s the biggest paying class.

There will also be a derby for older trucks this year. The board encouraged him to host that derby one more time, after last year’s old truck derby had only two participants. 

4-H auction

The board passed around a proposal letter from the University of Minnesota Extension Office about the 4-H livestock auction at the fair.

The proposal includes an 80/20 split, which is mandated by Minnesota 4-H in order to follow tax laws for nonprofit organizations, the letter said. 

The 80% of a buyer’s bid would go to the youth and 20% would go to the Houston County 4-H Federation. The federation can use those dollars to make improvements. 

A final vote on the proposal will take place on May 6, at 6:30 p.m. at the Criminal Justice Center (basement) in Caledonia. 

The board took no action on the matter.

Parade season

Jessica Heberlein reported fair season was upon the board, and members were working hard on the float. 

Fair royalty will be present at the Syttende Mai parade on May 18, Brownsville Days in June, Eitzen Fourth of July and Houston Hoedown at the end of July.

They will also be in La Crescent Apple Fest in September. Secretary Emily Johnson, Vice President Patrick Molling and xxx were chosen to drive in the parades and hand out tri-fold brochures about the fair.

Molling suggested cutting back on the amount of brochures, since there were many leftovers from last year. He also suggested not handing them out at Syttende Mai because it was too early.

Secretary’s report

Johnson said the annual donation to Houston County 4-H was before the board. The board approved a donation to 4-H.

She also noted Jim Gleason had passed away recently. The fair board had donated to a benefit held for Gleason in the past.

Groundskeeper’s report

Groundskeeper Craig Welsch asked the board to lock in the number of skid loaders the board would need for fair week from Coulee Region Bobcat in Dakota, Minnesota.

Usually the board rents out four to use, however, the company will not be coming to the fair this year for a booth.

Welsch mentioned they would need two machines with tracks instead of wheels, as the surface would be too hard and could potentially pop a wheel. The track machines also have more lifting capacity than the machines with wheels, he noted. 

Coulee Region Bobcat would also charge the board a flat rate for the rental and a “rent one get one” deal for two units, essentially providing the board with the four needed units. The board approved that motion.

Closed session, next meeting

The board went into closed session to discuss contract negotiations.

The next meeting of the Houston County Agricultural Society will be held May 19, at 6 p.m. at Elsie’s Bar and Grill.