The countdown to the Steele County Free Fair drops below 100 days this weekend, August 17-22 in Owatonna. Last May when the event was canceled the 'Countdown to the Fair' clock at was set a staggering 455 days. Fair manager Scott Kozelka said on a recent 'Fair Talk' broadcast, "I've never felt better."

He still watches updates from health officials closely, but says "People are ready," based on surveys he's seen of the general public's desire to attend regular events including the Minnesota State Fair. An update from Governor Walz on Thursday might shed more light on the chances for a 'normal' summer.

Kozelka said, "We're planning as normal...As we move forward we'll tweak and change things as we need to change them to make sure we're meeting the guidelines at the time of our fair."

He says a few vendors are waiting for guideline updates before committing, but says many regulars and some new ones have committed. Kozelka noted that one longtime food stand, El Sol, will not be at the fair. The owner has scaled back on traveling. About five regular food vendors have dropped, but Kozelka says at least four new ones will take their place.

Woodcarver Burt Fleming returns in 2021. The stunt dog show is back. The Minnesota 'Road Trip' station wagon will be on-site courtesy of the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism.

A home show was held recently at the Four Seasons Centre. Kozelka says it was good to see an event there. The show set up one-way traffic through the building. Kozelka says that isn't practical for the Steele County Fair with all the doors open for circulation and easy access for fairgoers.

Kozelka announced the lineup for entertainment at the United Prairie Bank Stage at Fair Square Park. Fairgoers should notice a less cluttered look to the park with the electrical cord put underground.

  • The Fabulous Love Handles, Tuesday, August 17
  • Tim Sigler Band, Wednesday, August 18
  • White Sidewalls, Thursday, August 19
  • Walter's Wheelhouse, Friday, August 20
  • Transit Authority, including Owatonna's Zac Miller, Saturday, August 21
  • Owatonna High School football rally, Sunday, August 22

The Minnesota State Fair is hosting a 'Kick off to Summer' event Memorial Day Weekend. And hopes are high for a regular state fair at the end of summer.

An Owatonna favorite, the Harry Wenger Marching Band Festival returns in 2021, but will be held without spectators. It is scheduled for June 19.

MORE TO EXPLORE: Fun Memories of the Steele Co. Fair

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