The Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism (OACCT) presented its first annual Spirit of Owatonna Awards at their recent virtual annual dinner. The award is "a recognition connected to the business community's work towards the greater good of our community," according to the Tuesday Talk e-newsletter from the chamber.

Shields of Steele (SOS) and JumpStart Owatonna were the inaugural recipients of the Spirit Awards. Shields of Steele has manufactured thousands of shields, many for students and younger children. They were named the United Way of Steele County Live United COVID Innovator in October, as reported on the SOS Facebook Page. The site states, "Our goal is to support our community and our local businesses and we hope to continue to provide support for those who want and need it."

The JumpStart Owatonna program brought businesses and individuals together to support businesses faced with mounting challenges during the pandemic, as reported in a post on

Board of Director Chair Nathan Dotson (Dotson Woodworking) was recognized at the annual dinner. The director for 2021 is Kelly Boomgarden (Country Inn & Suites). Tuesday Talk proclaims, "2021 is going to be an awesome year. In light of the challenges we face, and continue to face from the pandemic, we did have success and positivity in 2020 and we will continue on the wave of remarkable progress. Owatonna is positioned for a big year."

Outgoing board members include John Champa (Cybex Life Fitness), Andrew Cowell (Profinium), Brandon Wayne (Ameriprise Financial) and Stacy Wilson (Old Town Bagels). New board members of the OACCT are Brian Deml (Deml Heating and Air Conditioning), Jess McCoy (Federated Mutual Insurance Company), Doug Meier (Christian Brothers Cabinets) and Tom Peterson (Climate by Design International)

Nick Lewis (Thrivent Financial) was honored for his two years leading the Owatonna Chamber Ambassadors program.

Steele County Free Fair manager Scott Kozelka was named the "Wayne Starman" Ambassador of the Year Award winner. It goes to the ambassador who "attended the most visits/ribbon cuttings/events throughout the year." Kozelka is a regular guest on the AM 1390 KRFO Talk of the Town program. Listen Thursday, February 25 at 9:40 am for the next edition of "Fair Talk." The 2021 Steele County Fair is scheduled for August 17-22. Scroll below for some fair memories from the past.

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


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