Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Shareholders vote to sell historic Blue Earth County Fairgrounds January 10, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 12:52 PM
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The beef barn, shaded by an oak tree.

This beef barn is representative of the many old buildings which grace the 154-year-old Blue Earth County Fairgrounds. The oak-covered fairgrounds sits along the Watonwan River in Garden City, Minnesota.


And if all goes as planned, the Blue Earth County Fair will move from an historic 154-year-old site in Garden City to within a two-mile radius of Mankato, 10 miles away.

Shareholders, during a special meeting Thursday evening, voted 175 in favor and 76 against to sell the long-time fairgrounds, according to an article in the Mankato Free Press. (Click here to read that story.) That sale authorization paves the way for possible construction of a new fairgrounds near Mankato, the county seat and county’s center of population.

For background on this story, click here and read my post, “Deciding the future of the historic Blue Earth County Fairgrounds.” Also click here to read an earlier post about my visit to the fairgrounds in July.

I am disappointed. Once an historic gem like this is lost, you can never replace it. Let’s hope, at least, that those old buildings can be saved.

And I wonder, too, whether simply moving the fair will increase attendance and push the fair out of debt.

This will be an interesting process, no matter what side of the issue you favor.


Kitschy Minnesota county fair art in Morris August 14, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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I MAY HAVE MISSED attending the Stevens County Fair in Morris when I was in this western Minnesota community for a family reunion this past weekend.

Fair, front view of sign

But I didn’t miss this kitschy piece of fair advertising positioned on the corner of the Family Dollar parking lot downtown.

Fair, exhibits chair

I expect most of the locals are so used to seeing this mini Ferris wheel rolled out every summer that they think nothing of it. However, as an outsider and one who appreciates such homegrown creativity, this certainly caught my attention.

Fair, end view

My two regrets are these:

That I could not attend the fair because, even though I am not a fan of tromping around a fairgrounds among a crowd of people, I expect this rural fair would have appealed to me.

I did not see this Ferris wheel brightened by the holiday lights attached to the frame. In my mind’s eye, I can visualize the Christmas bulbs popping with color in the fading prairie sunset.

Fair, demo chair

THAT ALL SAID, if any current or former Stevens County residents can enlighten me as to the history of this homemade Ferris wheel, please share. Who made it, when, has it always been parked downtown…?

Fair, food chair

And what about the fair itself? What do you love about the Stevens County Fair?

For the rest of you readers, did/will you attend a county fair this summer? Let’s hear.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling