‘The home hasn’t felt the same since’

Published 6:02 pm Tuesday, November 15, 2022

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Owners of the popular Faye’s Concessions and family press the search for those who robbed their home during fair

For 43 years, Faye and Don Pedersen have been mainstays at local county fairs with their food stand Faye’s Concessions.

Through the hard work of running a stand they’ve enjoyed popularity and support from their customers and it’s truly been a love of the couple’s.

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“It’s something that I love doing,” Faye said. “We have our own family recipes; everything we do we try to make it like homemade and it’s worked out well for us.”

However, a single night in August this past year uprooted the solid ground they were on. During the last night of the Mower County Fair, as they were tearing down and making the move to the Steele County Fair in Owatonna, their home was broken into and ransacked.

Now the couple, along with the rest of the family, are turning to the public to help bring the culprits to justice.

A picture of some of the inside damage of the Peterson’s home. Photo provided

“It’s just such an emotional drain,” said the couple’s granddaughter LaToshia Neshek. “Obviously there were things that were stolen that were a huge loss for them. We’ve taken a ton of steps to upgrade security.”

While the Austin Police Department continues to work the case, the family has also turned to Crime Stoppers Minnesota and have offered a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of the culprits involved.

The Pedersens lost a large undisclosed amount of cash in the robbery, which was stored in a large gun safe weighing close to 400 to 500 pounds. 

A second safe was also taken, which contained important paperwork including wills, birth certificates and titles. Rooms were rifled through, the contents of closets and dressers left strewn on the floor.

Even in the kitchen, every drawer was left open, indicating they too had been gone through. The Pedersen’s grandson lost a gaming console and games along with a coin and card collection.

There were also windows broken indicating points of entry.

“We felt very violated,” Faye said. “The home hasn’t felt the same since. We built our home years ago. This was a home for everybody.”

The case is still an active so details of the investigation aren’t being released, but the family has a couple ideas of how the crime might have went. Both Faye and Don believe their home and the block they live on may have been previously cased.

“The neighbors right behind us the day before were sitting in the driveway and there was this [vehicle] that kept going by real slow,” Don said. “It kept going by real slow, and then it would come back again several different times.”

There is also a fairly broad window between 7:30 and 10 p.m. that Sunday where they think the crime was committed, which makes it even more brazen as there still would have been light in the sky.

There’s even a chance they might have just missed the event. At one point Faye and Neshek stopped back at the home to pick up a longer extension chord before meeting Don and other family at the Steele County Fair where they were setting up.

It was still dusk when the family left Owatonna and it was their grandson who first discovered something wrong, coming into the house and the kitchen and seeing the kitchen in disarray. In the family room, they even discovered a rocking chair still moving ever so slightly hinting that they may have just missed the crime.

“It’s all speculation,” Don said. “We were all so shocked.”

“We’re lucky and blessed that we didn’t come in on all of this,” Faye said. “We’re still alive.”

So far there are few leads as to who committed the crime.

Faye’s Concessions. Photo provided

“We’ve been in the background talking to people and hearing different things,” Neshek said. “There have been tips coming in so we have ideas about things. We haven’t had that tip to break the case open.”

For now, the Pedersens and their family are focused on moving forward and continuing to offer their foods to fairgoers, who are eagerly waiting their next funnel cake.

“Just to have some piece of mind to have this solved,” Faye said, with Don adding that they hope law enforcement, “catch the people who did this so there would be closure.”

In the meantime, the Pedersens, whose stand made the first funnel cakes in southern Minnesota, will continue to bask in the support of their family and friends and customers.

It’s a reassuring feeling for a family still coping with the events of this past August.

“We’ve had an outpouring of support from everybody with such kind words no matter where we go,” Faye said. “That’s the wonderful kind of support that we have.”

If you have information or a tip, call the anonymous hotline at Crime Stoppers of Minnesota at 1-800-222-8477 or visit https://sites.google.com/view/fayesburglary/home. To retain the reward, the tip must lead to an arrest.