With several days of heat, the East Otter Tail County fair finished with a “truly amazing” amount of attendees and events, according to fair board director and fair manager Diane Sazama. One day even marked 200 cars more than the 2019 fair, and people parked on the demo derby pit for the first time ever.
“It went extremely well,” Sazama said. She has been a fair board member for 19 years and secretary/treasurer for 11 years. “It’s just been so unbelievable. It’s probably one of the best fairs ever as far as attendance goes, as far as revenue generated. Just about everything is up on all of our events.”
The crowds of people also meant long lines for practically everything from the rides to food, bathrooms and the demo derby event on Saturday night. The seating areas and standing room around the pit were packed.
“Just looking down on the Midway there were times it was like, ‘Wow, where did all these people come from?’ It was full,” Sazama said. “Our food vendors actually were quite shocked on Thursday night with the attendance and they had to do some restocking for the next day because it really kind of caught them off-guard as well.”
Magician Joe Barnett and hypnotist Freddie Justice were a hit, as Sazama said. Both performed several shows on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The bands such as The Crop Dusters, Tail Gunners and Blue English Band drew in plenty for the shaded area and relaxing music.
“I heard some stories afterwards, people come up and say, ‘Oh my gosh, did you see that with the hypnotist … and those people were acting that way?’ It’s kind of fun to hear that stuff,” Sazama said.
People also enjoyed the daily activities like the Future Farmers of America barnyard, bingo and seeing the 4-H animals and exhibits. University of Minnesota Extension 4-H educator Janet Malone said the heat didn’t stop a “successful day of 4-H experiential learning.”
“To be done,” Malone said with a laugh about what she’s looking forward to at the fair. “I like it all. I love the people. I get to meet lots of our families that I don’t get to see maybe so much during the year and watching clubs work together and the teamwork that it takes to be able to put on a county fair, all the volunteers that step up, it’s just tremendous to see the community come together and be able to serve one another through the 4-H program.”
As a 4-Her for 10 years, Hannah Larson likes the aspect of learning new things.
“Last year, I learned how to ride English and I learned how to pivot my horse,” Larson said. She competed in the pleasure and game events with her horse Rockstar.
While showing cows, Conrad Koll has learned how to take care of animals and clip cow’s hooves. He also shows chickens. Kerry Bakken is in her fifth year showing her cow Allie and hopes to get better at washing their hooves.
“I like how sometimes when you go around the circle and they get feisty then you have to like go in another circle,” Bakken said.
The fair board and the Minnesota Farm Bureau also recognized the 2020 and 2021 Century Farm awards on Thursday night. The Krog family farm, near Underwood, started in 1904 with 40 acres and grew to 137 acres. The second 2021 awardee was the Charles and Esther Ljungren Farm, near Sebeka. The farm is 320 acres and owned by second generation family members.
The Krog Farm is operated by Evelyn Krog’s son Sam as the fourth generation. As dairy farmers, the family grew oats, corn and alfalfa and has transitioned to wheat, soybeans and corn, according to Krog and her daughter Kristi Tostenson.
“I learned how to drive a tractor. I learned how to milk cows. I learned how to feed cows. I learned whatever had to be learned, you know when there’s just the two of you working why then you have to know how to do almost everything but I didn’t do a lot of the tractor driving,” Krog said.
The hard work of the farm also brought a great faith-based community and place to raise her children, according to Krog.
“As kids growing up on the farm you had a really strong work ethic. You start young and you work,” Tostenson said.
With the 2021 fair back after last year’s cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sazama said more people attended than in a typical year, and the fair board looks forward to people continuing to come back.
“It’s about the community enjoying the fair,” Sazama said. “With a lot of our fair board directors, it’s when they see those little smiling faces of all ages, … that’s the reality of why we do what we do. It’s definitely not for ourselves because our families definitely take some sacrifices during the county fair time and even like the prep time leading up to that.”
If you’re interested in helping at the fair or joining the fair board, contact Sazama at 218-849-7520 or email@example.com.