County fair is paradise to me

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 1, 2002

Good grief … it seems like only 17 years ago that a whiskered man in blue jeans and short-sleeved shirt came up to me at the Mower County Fair and shyly asked, "Where is Crane Pavilion?"

I told the man, "You're standing in front of it, you idiot. Now, go away."

It was my first experience with Dan Vermilyea.

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Its memories like that which draw me back to the Mower County Fair each year. That and looking for the three-legged Holstein that Eugene Anderson said gives chocolate milk.

I paid him $10, but he and the cow never showed.

The Mower County Fair is as good as it gets in the summertime as far as I am concerned. The people, the sights, the sounds, the smells.

I can see one of Herb and Murl's Wonder Bars melting in my hand right now.

Here are some favorite memories:

n The year Jason Andree, Dave and Jan's son, showed a champion market turkey that went on to earn $175 at the 4-H Market Livestock Ribbon Auction.

The darn bird was so well-behaved Jason used verbal commands to keep the turkey close by when he needed him.

I never had that kind of luck in a crowd with two children and now five grandchildren.

It was 1992.

n The year I was able to convince the John Grass, Sr. family to pose for a picture.

The patriarch of the family had died, but each August the family comes to the Mower County Fair to watch the latest generation compete.

Until you've seen all of the Grasses, Nelsons, Lunnings and others together at one time, you don't know the meaning of family.

This is one of the biggest and the best.

It was 1995.

n The year, Roger and DeeAnn Scheffel's oldest daughter showed a dairy project.

Candy was the last to graduate from the ranks of 4-Hers. Patty, Jenny and Mikky preceded her.

The four girls earned 75 dairy awards during their years of 4-H competition.

It all started with Herbert and Nettie Scheffel and then Dick and Minnie -- Dick is the fellow who operates a three-wheeled scooter

around Austin with an orange flag flapping --

and then Roger and DeeAnn Scheffel.

This summer marks an anniversary in the Scheffel family: It was 30 years ago when Roger and DeeAnn's daughter, Patty, and Roger's brother, Arnold's daughter, Mindee, showed dairy projects at the Mower County Fair.

Arnold is deceased, but each October an award in his memory honors the year's top dairy exhibitor among 4-Hers.

n The year I got to know how dedicated the Scheffel family is was


Colonel Paul Hull sang the "Auctioneer's Song" and Glenn Medgaarden didn't. The 4-H ribbon auction set a new record, but the year I earned a reserve champion ribbon in the celebrity sheep show stands out.

The previous year, the contest was fixed and they gave the champion ribbon to a Mower County commissioner, who shall remain anonymous, because he's running for office this year.

Dave Quinlan, one of the classiest guys I ever met at the Mower County Fair, won the show that year, but Yours Truly took home the pink reserve champion ribbon.

That was the year, Jeremiah Krebsbach, his sheep, Thumper, and I made history.

It was 1999.

There are other memories. Who can forget the cow milking contests, being interviewed by Tina and Lena, being chewed out by Fair Board member Neal Anderson for claiming a helicopter ride leaked some kind of fluid over the County Fair crowd or last year's win in the tractor pull?

The only reason I'm coming back for more this year is to prove the person wrong who said "it doesn't get any better than this."

It does at the Mower County Fair.

If only I can dodge Dan Vermilyea and his darn fool questions.

Lee Bonorden can be reached at 4343-2232 or by e-mail at