Many people get excited for new food or a new attraction at the Steele County Fair. In 2019 a new barn might be a highlight for some. The new facility replaces a pair of 60-year old barns, one of which collapsed due to heavy, wet snow in March.

Sandy Jirele is a fair board member and works with open class and 4-H students who have animals at the fair. She was a guest on the KRFO "Fair Talk" program recently. She explained the process of moving forward with a new larger barn, "The fair board looked at the option of just repairing the one barn. However, knowing the other barn that was standing there was the same age of 60-some years old, we knew that the possibility of that going down at some point in time always existed."

The new facility's overall dimensions are 152-by-112 feet and there are multiple entry points. Jirele says a door on the east side of the new barn will add a safety factor, "What we will be doing is cutting a door into the west side of the show arena. So that the animals will be passing through an area between the two barns and not going out on the road."

"What this new barn has given us is a 76-foot area that's going to be all open. What is the best way to tie our cattle in there? Thanks to one of our grounds people, Scott Seykora, he came up with a great idea. He's put 16-foot sections together that kind of look like fencing that we will be able to tie the dairy cattle to. It also gives us the option to take them out with a forklift so that we will have that full area clear again so that we can use that area for storage. It was one of the requests of the fair board, that we try and utilize this building for storage as much as possible and not have permanent fencing put in."

Construction of the new barn began at the corner where the milking house is in order to make use of the plumbing and electrical already in place.

Jirele acknowledges that there could be a learning curve, "It's going to be new. And all the exhibitors know that. It's going to be a learning experience for all of us. We're trying to figure out the best way to get electrical and water to those animals that are being tied into the center of the barn. We're bringing down drops from the ceiling because we don't want to have hydrants sticking up."

She adds that the size of the wash rack has nearly doubled compared to the previous set up.

Jirele encourages everyone to visit the animal barns during the fair, "Our folks that live in the city of Owatonna get out and get a chance to see the animals and really talk to our exhibitors and learn a little bit about the animals and their treatment and how they are raised and just the whole farm aspect."

KRFO AM 1390 presents "Fair Talk" Thursday mornings at 9:40 am leading up to the fair which runs August 13-18 in Owatonna.