Lee Zion • Lafayette Nicollet Ledger
Red Dirt Road performs at the fair Friday as Kiera Schiller, 5, of Lafayette, dances along.
The Nicollet County fair had something for everyone.
The fair, held for five days starting Aug. 7, had animal exhibits, carnival rides, food, live music, a demolition derby, a kid-sized demolition derby, a petting zoo, beer tasting and more.
Two events were new this year — laser tag and paintball.
Carrie Passon, on the Nicollet County Fair Board, said this was the 148th annual fair. The best part is seeing all the people come out for the fun.
Her husband, Wayne Passon, agreed.
“Working with one another. Making something this big happen,” he said.
Carrie Passon added that organizers have built on lessons they’ve learned from previous years and made improvements along the way. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes or infrastructure work — last year, for example, the path by Johnson Hall was paved.
This year, the fair office got flooded over the winter from all the snow. So the office was completely remodeled. Johnson Hall got new flooring.
In another example, the food vendors used to run on a 30-amp system years ago. Passon said she heard from organizer Bob Holt about what a nightmare that created.
“He would have to run around and change the fuses all the time, “ she recalled.
The fair now has a 50-amp system, said Wayne Passon said.
Not only has the system serving the food vendors improved, so have the vendors themselves. A few years back, the only vendors a the fair were the VFW, the American Legion and the churches, Carrie Passon said.
Now, the offerings have expanded to include pizza, Mexican food and more.
Wayne Passon added that the demolition derby has tripled in size over the past few years. The fair bought three new bleacher sections to accommodate the crowd.
The Sunday car races made a return to the fair last year and this year after a two-year absence.
“We want to keep ’em; it’s a good draw on a Sunday,” Wayne Passon said.
He also gave a shoutout to the carnival rides.
“It’s the best carnival we’ve had here in 10 years. It’s very clean and very nice. Lots of rides for the kids,” he said.
Now that this year’s event is over, organizers are already looking to next year’s fair.
“The first meeting after the fair, we start again. What we can do better. What went wrong. And what went right,” Wayne Passon said.
Wayne Passon thanked all the volunteers and other civic organizations that donated their time. Without them, the fair could not have been a success, he said.
Meanwhile, over at Johnson Hall, which housed the 4-H exhibits, interim 4-H program coordinator Kelsey Brandt described its own offerings at the Nicollet County Fair.
“We have our different livestock shows. We have some other activities for the kids, like premiere showmanship. And demonstrations, too; we have demonstrations going on,” she said.
Brandt said the county fair a great way to let everyone know what the 4-H does. Exhibits include not just traditional agriculture but painting, fashion, pets, computers and more.
“This is a really great way for the 4-H [kids] to showcase what they’ve been working on all year. And to see the livestock. So a lot of the fairgoers look forward to coming to Johnson Hall and seeing exhibits, or attending some of the livestock shows. It’s really something that people look forward to at the fair, and they enjoy seeing,” Brandt said.
For Brandt, the most enjoyable part of the fair is seeing what the students are interested in.
“The hard work that they do to make sure their projects come in and that they do well. And to see how they are working with their livestock. It’s been really rewarding to see all of that,” Brandt said.
The most challenging part is making sure that all the exhibits are ready, since 4-H has a lot going on, and only a few short days to make things happen.
“Making sure we had all of our animal show stuff ready to go, and making sure we had the ribbons and awards, So it’s just making sure that we’re organized and ready for all the things that go on,” Brandt said.
Brandt added that 4-H is open to anyone who wants to join, kindergarten through 12th grade. There are dozens of projects to participate in — everything from flower gardens, to shop, to foods and nutrition.
“There’s something for everyone in 4-H,” Brandt said.