Lee Bonorden: Putting the final touches on another Mower County Fair

Published 6:30 am Saturday, August 14, 2021

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Editor’s note: The Herald is rerunning a column from Aug. 19, 1999 in honor of Lee Bonorden.

If you think I am going to brag about winning a reserve champion ribbon at the 1999 Mower County Fair, you’re right.

Lee Bonorden

But, you’ll have to wait until the Austin Daily Herald’s “Best of the Fair” tab comes out next week. Then, you’ll learn the story about how an Iowa farm boy grew up and overcame enormous adversities and teamed up with Jeremiah Krebsbach and his sheep, Thumper, to win probably the highest honor a human being could ever dream of.

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I tell people I go to the Mower County Fair to “chase kids and cows” and I do, but that’s only part of the job.

This year, you may have noticed that I was a little nervous. I kept looking over my shoulder for a hit man from Taopi.

This man – I could tell my his voice that he was way over six-feet tall and mean – called me to complain that I only write about Kiefers when I write about Taopi.

According to the man, there are 15 or 16 other families besides Kiefers at Taopi and all good people, too. He wants me to write about them when I write about Taopi’s plans to celebrate 125 years in 2000.

At least, it wasn’t one of those Austin school board people, who write letters to the editor. I had more than one comedian tell me the school board was passing the hat to get me on the bungee jump.

Speaking of the Austin school board, which a lot of people were at the County Fair, one person, who shall remain anonymous to protect his wife’s teaching job, told me this: “The one sure way to correct all of the school district’s problems is like they say about country music. Play the record backwards and your wife doesn’t leave you, the bank doesn’t repossess your pickup truck and grandma doesn’t get run over by a reindeer. If you read the minutes of the Austin school board’s meetings backwards just think of all the bad decisions that will be reversed.”

If it wasn’t the Austin school board that dominated people’s thoughts, it was school administration and their generously compensated support staff.

Ranking next on people’s minds was the district’s contract talks with teachers.

Another fellow had an opinion on another sensitive subject: the newspaper war. This guy suggested the owners of the Austin Daily Herald start a new morning newspaper in Rochester and give the rivals a taste of their own medicine.


Then there was Bubbles, the one and only herself. She asked or challenged – I don’t know what to call it – me to dance with her. That’s because I rejected the same offer at the Johnsburg Jamboree. She was with her husband and he gave me permission, so look out world, sometime somewhere Bubbles and Yours Truly will kick up their heels.

Of course, I don’t know what to do with the Ice2k T-shirt that Brad Johnson gave me. If I see the Mower County Commissioners wearing theirs, I might consider wearing mine.

This was my 15th Mower County Fair and each year I like it more and more. Honest, I do. I keep learning new things like the theory why the Fair Board has so much fun at the Fair: they like to ride those brand new 4-wheel gators loaned to them. Loren Hanson positively looks like he’s in heaven when he’s riding one and Gayle Perkins is hell on wheels.

I don’t know if I would go to a County Fair if there weren’t people. In my opinion, you see one hog, you’ve seen them all.

Thanks for talking at me – fair-goers.