They're busy shining things up in Owatonna, as the finishing touches are being put in place for the 2023 Steele County Free Fair, running August 15th through 20th.

Here's a rundown of some of we all have to look forward to, including over 5,000 free exhibits including 200 animals, the FFA Children’s Barnyard, the Great Outdoors Center, and the Thorni Ridge Exotics animals.

There will be free entertainment on five outdoor stages and in the beer garden -- plus 300 indoor commercial exhibits, over 200 outdoor vendors - including 100 food stands, and up to 40 thrilling rides on the Goldstar Amusements midway.

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The Grandstand

The Steele County Free Fair has some of the best entertainment you will find at a county fair!

The VIP area in the grandstand has gone through significant changes to improve the overall experience for VIP guests. A great view from the front row unobstructed pit view area, easy access to VIP tent and beer sale alley, infield parking right behind the stage, VIP tent serving light hors d’oeuvres prior to the concert starting at 4:00 pm, two beverage tickets, and the Tin Roof Tavern has dedicated bar tenders for the VIP area.

Ride Specials

There will be daily ride specials on the GoldStar Amusements Midway.

  • TUE 8/15: Power 96 Night with all rides $2 each from 5 pm to 11 pm.
  • WED 8/16: Horizon Eyecare Professionals Kid’s Day featuring a $25 ride pass for unlimited midway rides from noon to 5 pm.
  • THU 8/17: Culver’s Moonlight Madness featuring unlimited midway rides from 5 pm to 11 pm for $28 (or $25 with a Culver’s coupon available at Culver’s in Owatonna). Senior Day Ride special (62 and older) carousel & Ferris wheel rides for one coupon from noon to 5 pm.
  • FRI 8/18: North Risk Partners/TPS Insurance Family Fun Day on the midway featuring unlimited rides from noon to 5 pm for $25.
  • SAT 8/19: Profinium Inc. Ride Day, when a $30 wrist band entitles the wearer to unlimited rides from noon to 5 pm, plus a chance to win one of eight bicycles being given away by GoldStar Amusements Midway.
  • SUN 8/20: Hy-Vee Family Day is when a $30 wrist band entitles the rider to unlimited midway rides from noon to 9 pm.

The GoldStar Amusement Mega-Ride ticket is $55 and is on sale now until 5:00 pm on August 15, 2023, the opening day of the fair at Hy-Vee in Owatonna only. The Mega-Ride ticket is good for a ride wristband/lanyard which entitles the holder to unlimited midway rides all week.

Outdoor Stages

The United Prairie Bank Stage in Fair Square Park, the Elmer Reseland Stage in the KRFO Townsquare and the Village Stage in the Village of Yesteryear will feature free entertainment each afternoon and evening throughout the fair.

The United Prairie Bank Stage has some great entertainment throughout the week, including the Owatonna Community Band, Ali Gray’s Country Jamboree, Owatonna’s own Tim Sigler, the Whitesidewalls, Transit Authority, Owatonna’s own the Royal Emperors, the Eclipse Band, Generation Gap, and more.

The Elmer Reseland Stage in KRFO Townsquare will provide entertainment for children and adults alike. The Moogician, the Electrifying Magic of Jay Mattioli, more magic from Greg the Great, Deal or No Deal, the Robotic Team and more.

Shows Around the Fairgrounds

Jurassic Kingdom comes to the fair for three shows daily Tuesday at 8 pm, and Wednesday through Sunday at 2, 5, and 8 pm. Jurassic Kingdom features life size dinosaur puppets.

The Southwest Dairy Farmers Mobile Dairy Classroom returns to the Steele County Fair. The Mobile Dairy Classroom features a 32-foot classroom featuring a fully operational milking parlor. The classroom presentation includes a live cow, the milking process and the importance of dairy foods in a healthy diet.

The Hot Glass Blowing Academy is new to the Steele County Free Fair this year. This one-of-a-kind glassblowing demonstration provides energetic and dynamic entertainment with educational value through an art form that is over 3000 years old.

The Robinson Carving Company family has been doing sculptures for the past two decades with their chainsaws. They will be doing 3 – 4 shows daily with a new sculpture being created at each show.

The All-Star Stunt Dogs Show is a must see that will entertain people of all ages. From back flips, handstands, big air stunts, to amazing tricks; these dogs are thrilling the nation! Performances begin on Tuesday at pm, and Wednesday through Sunday at noon 3 and 6 pm.

The High-Flying Pages are America’s premier flying trapeze aerial troupe. The Pages will have spectators on the edge of their seat as they race motorcycles inside the Globe of Death. Shows on Tuesday at 6 pm, Wednesday through Thursday at 4 and 7 pm, and Friday through Sunday at 1, 4, and 7 pm.

YE Old Beer Garden

Great musical entertainment from popular area bands will be featured daily on the Beer Garden stage.

  • TUE 8/15: Johnny Holm Band (8:30 pm)
  • WED 8/16: IV Play (8:30 pm)
  • THU 8/17: Jacuzzi Puma (8:30 pm)
  • FRI 8/18: Swerve (3:00 pm), Shirts & Skins (8:30 pm)
  • SAT 8/19: Led Penny (3:00 pm), Travis Thamert (8:30 pm)
  • SUN 8/20: Dan Stursa Band (1:00 pm), The White Keys (6:30 pm)

Discover Steele County’s Past

Explore the fair in its early days in the Muckle Fair Museum and then wander over to the Village of Yesteryear and relive Steele County’s history in the village buildings. While you're in the village, take in the Gandy Company “Old Iron Show”, featuring a large display of antique tractors and small engines. Take a seat at the Village of Yesteryear outdoor stage which has entertainment daily at noon, 3, and 6 pm.

Old Time Music

If you enjoy listening to some great polka music, you'll want to be in Fair Square Park on Thursday the 17th. The Marv Nissel Band will take the stage at 12:30 pm followed by The Minnesota Over 60 Band at2:30. The Dan Stursa Band will be on stage playing some great old-time music again on Friday at noon on the United Prairie stage.

As you can probably imagine, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to everything that's waiting for you at the 2023 Steele County Free Fair. From the Steele Saloon to the Outdoor Center -- there is truly something for everyone.

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