Back in 1859, a small group of county pioneers had a vision that Goodhue County needed a place to showcase their agricultural and homemaking activities. That vision became the Goodhue County Fair. The first 7 fairs were held in and near Red Wing. The Minnesota State Fair was even held in conjunction with the Goodhue County Fair in 1864. Later fairs were held in the center of the county at Hader for 3 years. Since then, the fairs have all been held in and around Zumbrota. Initially, fairs were held as street fairs in Zumbrota. In 1892, the fair moved to the S. B. Barteau farm northwest of Zumbrota. This site is now in the city’s industrial park area along Jefferson Drive (Old Hwy 52), now known as the Barteau House B&B. After the 10 year lease was up, the fair again moved into Zumbrota as a street fair. In 1915, the present grounds of 16.37 acres north of Zumbrota were purchased for $3,270. Finally, the Goodhue County Fair had a permanent place to call home.
The fairgrounds site was developed over the years. Two of the earliest buildings are still in use. One of the moments in history for the fair was in 1919, when the original grandstand collapsed. Full of people at the end of a horse race, people stood up stamping their feet when the whole works just caved right in. Only one injury was reported. That structure was replaced by another wooden grandstand that served the fair well until the current aluminum structures were installed. The current grandstands have been a huge improvement for spectator viewing and safety. The new track design has really improved the demolition derbies. The grandstand building itself, with restrooms, showers, dairy parlor, storage and utilities, remained until 2009. That year, the building was razed and a new building set over the same footprint. The new building, sometimes called the “Township Building”, due to a funding partnership with many of the county’s townships, was realized. The new building again includes updated restrooms, showers, new dairy parlor, new maintenance shop, and expanded exhibit and storage space.
Our 4‐H youth program, currently 3rd largest in the state, has been the mainstay since the early part of the 20th Century. Our barns have consistently been filled with livestock, and our 4‐H Building seems to be bursting at the seams with additional 4‐H projects. From our fair, young people go on to compete at the Minnesota State Fair with some of the largest county contingents in BOTH livestock and general encampments.
The Goodhue County Fair incorporated as a stock organization in 1961. It is directed by a board of 15 volunteer county citizens. We are also supported by a Junior Fair Board, made up of active 4‐H youth volunteers. Our county’s Junior Board has existed for many years and is a model for other counties. Several of our current fair board “cut their teeth” on the Junior Board.
The fair has changed and diversified over the years to entertain, educate, and draw people of all ages with a broad range of interests. There is still a strong emphasis on animals and traditional 4‐H projects, but entertainment and educational programs and events are the key to hosting a successful 5‐day fair.
Thursday, Aug 5, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time
Monday, Aug 9, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time
Monday, Aug 9, 2021 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time
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