A line formed right away at 10 am at the Tom Thumb Mini Donut stand Saturday morning to open up Dairy Days at the Steele County Fairgrounds, hosted by the Steele County American Dairy Association. Apparently that was the closest choice to breakfast food. As the morning advanced to lunch time, lines were deep at all ten food stands and the ADA malt stand.

Dairy Days was organized shortly after the announcement that the county fair would be canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. A few people were wearing masks and most were doing their best to honor the social distancing guidelines in lines that stretched and twisted around one another outside the grandstand Saturday and Sunday.

As the crowd grew early on Saturday, Steele County Fair manager Scott Kozelka said, "it's not quite 11:00 and look at the people out here. The stands are busy already...It's fun to see people are wanting to get out. We have a beautiful day."

"Working with the ADA, the dairy people, they lost all their events...We just said, 'Hey What can we do? Can we set up our stand sometime?' I said, 'Let's do a little bit more. We've got other vendors that support our fair. Try to keep it as close to local as we can, a lot of different menu items. A lot of local people here."

Kozelka said several food stands will also be on site for Patriot Skies fireworks show Saturday, July 4th at the fairgrounds. Food stands will be open Friday, July 3 as well. The Owatonna Early Edition Rotary Club hosts the fireworks show.

Lilly Zolner is a Steele County Dairy Princess and was serving from the malt stand Saturday, "We just here for anybody to come out grab a shake or a malt. And we've also got some (educational) stuff to hand out if you're interested." Zolner said chocolate seemed to be the most popular flavor with "quite a few big orders" as some people carted away armfuls of shakes.

With events being canceled, Zolner says the dairy ambassadors are sharing their message through other means, "So we decided to make a video of us doing a farm tour. Me and Kylie Kruckeberg, one of the other princesses, we did a farm tour. And Sam Fredin and Katelyn Rysavy focused more on explaining how milking works. We made those videos so they can be shown to the daycare kids."

The National Wild Turkey Federation also put up a tent at Dairy Days. It was the same weekend they had planned a big summer festival at the Radel Pavilion. The group raises money to support conservation efforts and improve hunting opportunities.

Steele County ADA Dairy Days


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