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Fillmore County Fair receives hefty donation

By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Jul 18th, 2014
Posted in All Fillmore County Fair

Each year, thousands flock to Preston for Fillmore County’s grand celebration, eager to fulfill the annual summer tradition. Slated to run Tuesday, July 22 through Saturday, July 26 in 2014, the five-day event showcases the county’s flourishing agriculture and talented exhibitors. Capped with grandstand entertainment ranging from a variety of live music and demolition derby, to thrilling bull riding and Triple B Rodeo, as well as contests of strength, a pedal tractor pull, 5K run/walk, food to whet any appetite, and a midway carnival, the fair is bursting with things to do.

Recent years have been a challenge to county fairs as upkeep and maintenance costs, as well as entertainment expenses, continue to rise. Financial donations have been key to keeping the long-standing tradition going. The 15-member board works year round to make contacts with local companies, many with agricultural ties. Last year, a familiar conversation about the fair and projects between Fillmore County Fair board member Doug Lind and Winneshiek Cooperative Board member Doug Van Sloten lead to a lucky break for the fair.

“Like most fair boards, we have limited funds. We were talking and he told me, ‘Find a project and send a proposal.’ There are probably funds we can send your way,” said Lind. “I knew there was the ability to find some matching funds and was told they could probably make a sizeable donation, but I had no idea how much that could be.”

Patiently waiting for the right project, the board made the determination that it would earmark funds for repair of the massive main barn. Earlier this year, the fair board received quotes from contractors on the repainting of the steel roof and submitted their proposal to Winneshiek Cooperative Association. The cooperative approved a gracious $5,000 donation towards the $12,000 project. Through a “Sharing Success” matching funds program from CoBank, a financial institution for many area cooperatives, the fair board was thrilled when the project was matched 100 percent, adding another $5,000 donation. This spring, the barn project was lined up and completed with the funds channeled through the Fillmore County Agricultural Society. “It was perfect timing,” added Lind.

“It’s nice to see that an agricultural outlet sees the value of donations. To me, it’s a donation to the kids,” he continues. “They’re giving to a very strong agricultural community. It speaks volumes that they see the value. Being an agricultural county, we might not have the carnival that other big fairs might have, but no one else has the livestock that we have,” Lind enthuses.

In Fillmore County, 357 youth are enrolled in 4-H enrollment is 357 youth, with an additional 108 adult volunteers. Ten 4-H youth serves as Junior Board members relaying information between the board and the 4-H program participants. In recent years, there have been 900 livestock exhibits. According to a University of Minnesota Extension press release, 1,200 exhibits are registered for the 2014 Fillmore County Fair.

“4-H a big part of the fair,” notes fair board secretary/treasurer Kathy Tesmer. “This donation to fair really helps everybody though. It benefits everyone in the county; 4-H kids, families, and adults that take in the fair each year. People need to know that donations are appreciated and treasured and used to the best.”

The fair kicks off Tuesday morning with open-class entry and 4-H Horse Training projects at 10 a.m. For more information and a schedule of events, go to www.fillmorecountyfair.com or find them on Facebook.

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