Ag Society ready to host Fillmore County Fair next week

Camping has been upgraded at the Fillmore County fairgrounds now that more electrical service has been added to the grounds' campgrounds. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/BLUFF COUNTRY NEWSPAPER GROUP
By : 
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy
Bluff Country Newspaper Group

Plug into your county fair.

“We have increased camping electrical capacity, installed a new roof on the 4-H fair office, replaced several aging doors on buildings and done repairs to other roofs, and replacing damaged concrete in the rabbit and poultry barn and renovating the old entrance are the two projects at the top of our never-ending list,” stated Aaren Mathison, president of the Fillmore County Agricultural Society, anticipating the opening of the Fillmore County Fair on July 17.

He related, “Every year, we as a board discuss various parts of our fair activities and facilities that need improvement. We prioritize projects based on funding, availability of resources and the greatest return on investment to the fair and our grounds. We also think about projects that benefit our exhibitors and our attendees in the greatest way possible.”

Mathison continued, “Every year, we make minor changes and tweaks to our schedule, based on feedback from our attendees and participants, as well as trying to expand the opportunities for activities and programs during the fair.”

The 2018 fair’s 4-H entry day is Monday, July 16, followed by open class entry day on Tuesday, July 17. Wednesday, July 18, is family day — offering up 4-H shows like the two days before and making room for activities such as go-kart racing. Thursday, July 19, is 4-H Day and includes “Wild Things Zoo Attraction,” the 4-H lamb lead show, the M&W Tractor Pull, the 4-H basket auction and area band “Troubleshooter” playing for the evening in the beer barn. Friday, July 20, is Kids’ Day, kicking off with “Wild Things Zoo Attraction” and including the 4-H rabbit and dairy goat shows, the beef show, the open class horse show, the 4-H market livestock premium auction, mutton busting, and the T&C Rodeo. Senior Day, Saturday, July 21, encompasses the open class beef, swine, horse, goat and sheep shows, a pedal pull, demolition derby, and music in the beer barn by the “Gopher Tones.” Sunday, July 22, is the final day of the fair and features a benefit breakfast to support a chosen cause, the release of all exhibits, a morning church service and the open class rabbit show as the last event of the countywide celebration.

Mathison pointed out, “New this year, we have added open class livestock shows in rabbit, horse, swine and beef. Our local Fillmore County Sky Warn, which is composed of storm spotters and radio operators, will have an educational exhibit on the grounds. This year, we will have a dedicated demonstration station where there will be hands-on activities in the west end of the exhibits and commercial building near the old entrance. We also have expanded or extended our ‘Wild Things Zoo Attraction’ for a larger setup with more species of animals from throughout the world.”

He added, “The Little Farmhands interactive exhibit organized by the Chatfield FFA will see some additions and expansions as well. The Southeast Minnesota Drug Task Force will be facilitating an interactive exhibit, ‘Hidden in Plain Sight,’ educating people about the increasing drug problem in our communities. Our tractor-pull will be sanctioned by M&W Pullers, and they are adding additional weight classes as well as possible pickup and semi-truck classes. Another thing is the addition of several more food vendors that people will be able to enjoy.”

The president highlighted that there will be tunes on the fairgrounds throughout the week. “As we’ve done in the recent past, the Ag Society is providing musical entertainment every night on the stage outside of our beer barn — from local deejays on Tuesday and Wednesday, with live bands playing Thursday through Saturday.”

 Troubleshooter, a local favorite for many years, will take the stage on Thursday. IV Play, a popular band based out of Mankato, will certainly impress those in attendance with music across several genres on Friday night. Mathison said the week rounds out on Saturday with Gopher Tones, a band that was a hit last year with their blues and rock music, “so we are excited to have them back again this year.”

The fair has not had a midway for the past several years, but there are inflatables for young attendees to jump on and climb. “This year, we are continuing with the inflatables through Hanson Girls from Chatfield. As we’ve done in the past, they are free for kids of all ages to enjoy, courtesy of the Fillmore County Agricultural Society,” Mathison said. “We also have our ever-popular pedal tractor pull, mutton busting and a mechanical bull the day of the rodeo. I think families will continue to enjoy the expanded entertainment and activities throughout the week, and the fair is safe and affordable for the whole family to enjoy. We offer a little bit of everything for everyone, from art displays to livestock shows, demolition derbies to church worship. Our expanded food vendors will also suit everyone’s taste buds.”

Mathison cited the fair is the culmination of the efforts of the society and everyone who comes to exhibit, work or attend.

The Fillmore County Agricultural Society is composed of 14 hard-working individuals from throughout the county with various backgrounds.

“We are all passionate about the fair and its importance to the county and therefore donate a lot of time and resources to make sure this fair happens every year,” he said. “We also have hundreds of other volunteers and businesses that have helped our fair become what it is today. We are continuing to refine and improve our fair activities within our resources. We have expanded upon some areas of our fair that we have seen the greatest interest — we appreciate any and all assistance and feedback that the community gives us. This helps us refine and improve our fair every year while also continuing to maintain the existing parts of the fair that we enjoy. I believe that our fair has a lot of ‘hidden gems’ that all too often don’t get the recognition they deserve. Those people who attend our fair and take the time to appreciate what has come together see the great things that our fair has to offer. The fair is a fun, safe, family-friendly experience.”

Mathison said his favorite part of the fair each year is seeing it all come together and people working together.

“There are thousands of fair exhibits on display that people have put hours of hard work into for this one-week exposition,” he said. “We, as an ag society, like to take some time and just enjoy the fair…that we have contributed to a fun, family-friendly celebration. The fair has been a Fillmore County tradition for 161 years, and it has been an annual celebration of the county’s culture, economy and people.”

The Fillmore County Fair is slated for July 17 through July 22 at the fairgrounds in Preston. Fillmore County Agricultural Society officers include president Aaren Mathison, vice president Dennis De Vries, secretary Kathy Tesmer and treasurer Doug Lind. Fillmore County district representatives include Kurt Raaen and Mathison — representing District 1, or Sumner, Jordan, Chatfield, Spring Valley and Fillmore townships; District 2 representatives Kyle Chiglo, Lind and Mike Fenske of Arendahl, Holt, Norway, Rushford and Pilot Mound townships; De Vries and Tesmer representing Bloomfield, Beaver, Forestville and York Townships in District 3; Jennifer Pickett, Colin Winslow and Greg Dornink representing Carrolton, Carimona, Bristol, Fountain and Preston townships in District 4; Lowell Drinkall, Karl Housker and Derek Lange representing Amherst, Canton, Harmony, Newburg and Preble townships in District 5; and Andy Craig serving as an at-large member.