Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Stepping into yesteryear at the Blue Earth County fairgrounds August 1, 2013

Just inside the entry to the Blue Earth County Fairgrounds.

Just inside the entry to the Blue Earth County Fairgrounds.

PRIOR TO LAST FRIDAY, I’d never been to the Blue Earth County Fairgrounds, nor even to Garden City, the unincorporated community in which the fairgrounds is located. That would be south of Mankato, along the banks of the Watonwan River.

Log cabins on the fairgrounds include this one from 1860 and a replica of an 1839 cabin.

Log cabins on the fairgrounds include this one from 1860 and a replica of an 1839 cabin.

What a delightful place—like a step back in time.

The beef barn, shaded by an oak tree.

The beef barn, shaded by an oak tree.

Space for chickens and ducks and geese and such poultry.

Space for chickens and ducks and geese and such poultry.

Always a fair favorite, the sheep.

Always a fair favorite, the sheep.

Just look at these old-fashioned buildings and imagine the cattle, pigs, poultry and sheep trucked into this scenic spot for the annual showing of the best of the best.

I expect (hope) the 4-H food stand will be repaired before the fair.

I expect (hope) the 4-H food stand was repaired before the fair.

Imagine 4-Hers clutching coveted ribbons.

The open class exhibit buildings.

The open class exhibit buildings. Look at the splendid old doors on these structures.

Imagine the families and old folks, the neighbors and strangers mingling here to celebrate life in rural Minnesota.

Imagine the young lovers strolling the grounds.

My Aunt Marilyn remembers, more than 50 years ago, attending this fair on a weekday afternoon along with other Blue Earth County employees. “I suppose they don’t do that anymore,” she said.

I expect not, Marilyn.

 A posting of fair sponsors just inside the front gate.

A posting of fair sponsors just inside the front gate.

Today, August 1, through Saturday, August 3, you can experience this grassroots fair when gates open at the Blue Earth County Fairgrounds/Shady Oaks Campground in Garden City just off U.S. Highway 169.

CLICK HERE for detailed fair information and click here for info about the campground.

BONUS PHOTOS:

It seems every fairgrounds has an old school or church like this one.

It seems every fairgrounds has an old school or church like this one.

An on-site beverage stand.

An on-site beverage stand.

The Future Farmers of America building.

The Future Farmers of America building.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

13 Responses to “Stepping into yesteryear at the Blue Earth County fairgrounds”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    I love fairs!!! Going to have to try to get one in this summer before they are all over!!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I’m not a big fan of fairs given my days as a newspaper reporter and photographer covering county fairs. Chasing down 4-Hers and their animals for endless photos was not fun.

      But this fair in Blue Earth County I think I would enjoy because of its old-fashioned charm. I mean, look at those buildings.

  2. This looks like a fairgrounds with character. I never really considered fairgrounds all that interesting until a few years ago when I realized their photography potential. A friend of Cyndie and I, David Husom, has photographed several fair grounds (http://www.davidhusom.com). They are an interesting aspect of our culture to say the least.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Dan, you pinned it with that word, “character.” Exactly what I thought, along with old-fashioned, when I saw these buildings. I would have loved to have shot more, as these were only drive-by shots. Like get out of the vehicle and explore. But I didn’t have a lot of time. I would love to actually attend this fair some year. Imagine the photo ops.

  3. Oh, I love fairs. The bigger, the better. Now this has me thinking about the Minnesota State Fair, which will be here soon! I live only a little over a mile from the fairgrounds.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I’m the opposite of you. I attend our local county fair once every few years. And the State Fair, have not been there in decades. The smaller, the better, for me.

  4. cecilia Says:

    But it is still going? Each year!? The fairs seem very big out on the prairies, in fact as you say it is a wonderful link to the past, I have to admit though that i love the look of these grounds without all the people! c

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Yes, fairs are a pretty big deal on the prairie. I especially love the look of these vintage buildings. Minus all the people works for me, too.

  5. treadlemusic Says:

    If I hadn’t seen the leader/headline, I would have thought your photos were of the Houston County Fairgrounds in Caledonia!! I love small county fairs and plan on going to our in a couple of weeks. Our boys were in 4H and your photos bring back pleasant memories! Hugs……

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Good to know there’s a similar fairgrounds in the area with that yesteryear charm.

      • treadlemusic Says:

        Yup, right down to the log buildings/homes/church that have been donated that were built by the first/early settlers around here. It’s set up as a little village and is a “must see” every time we go.

  6. Sartenada Says:

    I love especially the log cabin – cool!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I love log cabins, too. Reminds of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Little House in the Big Woods.


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