Tuesday, July 16, 2024
This photo taken during last summer’s Steele County Free Fair in Owatonna of Cali Nelson, 7, of Ellendale and her cow earned local fair officials a first place award this past weekend.

Photo warms the hearts of fair judges

Our little sleeping beauties have earned the Steele County Free Fair a top prize in the annual convention of the Minnesota Federation of County Fairs this past weekend in the Twin Cities.

You may recall that last summer we published a photograph of Cali Nelson, 7, of Ellendale snuggled right next to her cow, Spark, from the Steele County Fair. Nelson and her cow found great comfort and relaxation sleeping together in the straw with her arm wrapped around Spark’s head in the cattle barn.

The photograph became an instant hit. Officials at the fair immediately reached out to get a copy of the photo so they could tuck it away for this year’s communications contest at the annual state fair convention.

Last weekend the fair captured first place out of 18 entries in the kids with animals category. The fair used the following caption with the photo, “Everyone needs a nap sometimes during a very busy fair.”

Fair manager Scott Kozelka was excited about capturing a first place award. “Everyone remarked about the picture and how cool it was (even before the award was given out),” he said.

Kozelka and his crew entered photos in six different categories, though their only winning entry was with the sleeping beauty photo.

“It seems like we do a good job with the kids photos,” Kozelka said. He noted this is the third or fourth year the fair has entered the contest. He usually displays some of the winning entries in his office.

Kozelka said he likes to enter the contest as a way to highlight Minnesota’s largest county fair and “show our involvement with the community.”

As for the rest of the convention, Kozelka said his staff and directors attended various classes and workshops in an effort to make the local fair even better. He said there are some new things coming up along the lines of the entertainment venues, though he wouldn’t reveal them just yet.

He plans to make an announcement in the coming weeks about what will be offered at this year’s fair. “We will be rocking and rolling shortly,” Kozelka said.

This is the same convention where the Minnesota State Fair announced that it would be installing metal detectors at all entrance gates this year to enhance the safety of all fairgoers. State officials say the change is part of ongoing security upgrades. Being a part of the Great Minnesota Get-Together will now require a walk through a metal detector.

Not to worry, Kozelka assures me, Steele County won’t be installing metal detectors any time soon. Doing so on the local level would be a nightmare, especially with the fair being free and having access points all over the place.

Reliving last year’s fair and all this fair talk puts me into the hot pursuit mode of wanting to get through winter and onto this year’s fair.



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