Steele County Free Fair Secretary Scott Kozelka told KDHL Wednesday before our AM Minnesota program people appeared to enjoy the newest area of the fairgrounds.  Approximately 2 and 1/2 acres were added on the north end with the shortening of the track and subsequent replacement of the fencing.

Wednesday our AM Minnesota program began in the Beer Garden where we were told they experienced a lighter than usual opening night.  Perspective is everything right?  The Beer Garden served approximately 4,000 cups of beer which is equivalent to 28.5 kegs.

Our next segment took us outside the Fair Office area for a visit with James Linder who used to be in charge of the Beer Garden and is now the Hospitality Manager and Fair Historian.  Linder told us the Beer Garden used to average over 300 kegs for the six days of the fair.  Sober Cab signs are in the area and Linder told us a number of people were taking advantage of the service.  It's a lot cheaper than a DWI would be.

Linder told KDHL AM Minnesota listeners the biggest change he has seen in his over 20 years as a member of the board has been the growth in attendance.

In 1996 just over 177,000 people visited the fair and in 2018 that number was over 318,000.  The record was set in 2013 when 350,899 people made their way to Owatonna.

Some interesting statistics found through surveys of fair-goers include the fact that the largest demographic to attend are those over the age of 60.  24 percent of fair-goers are in that age bracket.  The next highest is ages 41 to 50 at 20 percent.  18 percent between the ages of 51 and 60.  That means approximately 62 percent of those attending are 41 and older.

We then visited with Glen Meger in charge of the Commercial Exhibits and learned there are over 450 businesses, approximately 300 of them in the Four Seasons Building.  Some are making the world debut of their products.

We finished in the Izaak Walton building and visited with the Steele County Chapter of Minnesota Pheasants, Inc. where they have some cool blaze orange, pink and gold hats for sale.  A blaze orange stocking cap and sweatshirt is also available with their logo on it.

Senior Day is Thursday and it's also Medford Day.  Ellendale Day is Friday.  Old Time day is Saturday.  Pepsi Family Day is Sunday featuring ride special from Noon to 9:30 p.m. including a free Pepsi and hot dog for $22.00.

Thursday morning at 11:30 the Steele County Outstanding Senior Volunteers will be recognized on the UPB Stage in Fair Square Park.