When the 2021 Steele County Free Fair officially opens Tuesday, August 17 at 5 pm, it will have been 454 days since the 2020 fair was canceled due to the pandemic and two years since the 2019 Steele County Fair. This year's slogan of "Bringing Back the Fun in 2021" hits the nail right on the head. Many people at Sunday's volunteer appreciation dinner were ready for the fair to open then and there.

The dinner gave the opportunity to recognize annual anniversaries for those who reached milestones either in 2020 or 2021. Among those highlights were Cathy Torrey (textiles) and Dan Deml (board president) reaching 40 years of service. Publicity Director and "voice of the fair" Todd Hale was honored for 30 years of service.

Roy Koenig/TSM

Fair manager Scott Kozelka also honored Sharon Klein from the office who will be retiring September 1. He credited the grounds crew with their hard work and dedication to put the fairgrounds in great shape.

Kozelka noted several highlights for this year's get together including a new electric train that will give rides, the Southwest Dairy Classroom and Max - a transforming robot.

Grandstand shows include a pair of free events to kick off the fair. On Tuesday, August 17 is an antique tractor pull. Wednesday, August 18 is the Jason Pritchett concert for the Hometown Heroes show. Travis Thamert will open for him.

Roy Koenig/TSM

Get your tickets for Hairball (Thursday), Craig Morgan (Friday), Bulls-N-Barrels (Saturday) and the demolition derby (Sunday) at www.scff.org.

I spoke briefly with Steele County Sheriff Lon Thiele Sunday. He said there will be extra law enforcement "as usual" on the grounds. He said Operation Extra Eyes will put people associated with the sheriff's office in plain clothes around the fairgrounds, focusing on areas where children gather.

Roy Koenig/TSM

Thiele said the goal is for a safe, fun, family atmosphere. This year will be the first fair for new Steele County Emergency Manager Kristen Sailer. In the above photo, Thiele is participating in the KRFO watermelon seed spitting contest. That won't be held in 2021. But AM 1390 KRFO / 94.7 FM is debuting the Hero Bean Bag Toss. Check it out each afternoon at 5 pm in the KRFO Townsquare.

Things You've Go-To-Do at the Steele Co. Fair

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