Herb & Murl’s serving the fair one final time

Published 7:18 pm Tuesday, August 8, 2023

After nearly seven decades, owners make the move to retire the grill


It’s Monday morning and Barb and David Granholm, along with their grandchildren Isaac and Easton Granholm, are hard at work bringing Herb & Murl’s to life.

Located across the way from Crane Pavilion, Herb & Murl’s has been an icon of food at the Mower County Fair coming into its 69th year, however, it will also be the food stand’s last year.

Email newsletter signup

After nearly seven decades, Herb & Murl’s will be shutting down the grill.

“It’s just time to be done doing everything,” Barb said, coming out from the kitchen to talk about the history of the establishment that has been the source of so many memories. “I retired two years ago. The kids are all too busy — the oldest two are empty-nesters, the youngest one has these two and they are into sports and fishing. It’s time to turn it over to somebody new.”

Whoever that will be, though, will not be Herb & Murl’s. Once the final burger is served Sunday, its time officially comes to an end.

“It’s been fun. It really has,” Barb said. “You see people. People come to the fair you never see.”

Initially started in 1954, Herb and Murl Loecher, the longtime owners of the popular food stand, ran it after purchasing it in 1959, with Barb and her nephew joining and helping Herb run the stand up through its 50th year in 2004.

In 2011, Barb and her nephew took it over completely and then about five years ago the operation fell to Barb and David.

Initially, the stand was set up where the Plager Building stands today, before moving to its current spot on the fairgrounds.

Over time, Herb & Murl’s added more and more by purchasing other stands at the fair, including the Wonder Bars ice cream stand, which at the time had two stands at the fair — one across from Herb & Murl’s and the other on the other end of the fairgrounds.

The stands were reduced to one, before being absorbed by Herb & Murl’s.

Barb said she remembers the long hours her family put into the stand, which was open both during the fair and the annual Barrow Show. She’s also seen a lot come and go.

“I can remember coming out here. My folks worked day in and day out during the fair, morning till night,” Barb said. “We’ve seen a lot of changes throughout the  years.”

However, what has stayed constant is the love people at the fair have had for Herb & Murl’s over the years. For many the food stand is a generational tradition, drawing in families over time and becoming especially close to Herb and Murl and their family.

Barb said she even remembers one girl having a senior picture taken at the stand and how much the farm kids enjoyed coming to get something to eat.

“It’s a great feeling,” Barb said. “People knew my mom and dad. They loved them and they got to know a lot of people. They were well liked and everybody says they miss them.”

One of the things Barb remembers over the years is just how big the Barrow Show was for Herb & Murl’s.

“It used to be years ago that the Barrow Show, in three days, did better than the fair did in seven days,” she said. “The barrow show was really a big thing.”

While this year is the last year for Herb & Murl’s, it’s still one more year than the original plan called for, Barb said. Last year was supposed to be the last, but the fair came to Barb and David asking them to consider one more year.

Still, this is the definite end for Herb & Murl’s Barb said, adding that the family does hope the stand itself continues with new people and new ideas.

Regardless, when the stand shuts down Sunday, Barb and her family will have no regrets.

“It’s been a good ride,” she said. “It really has, but it’s a bittersweet thing.”