ST. PAUL, Minnesota,
August 5, 2005: Minnesota leads the nation
in certified organic corn and soybean acreage, so it
is fitting that the Steele County Fair is one of the
nation's first to feature open class competitions for
certified organic crops.
The fair runs August 16-21 at the county fairgrounds
in Owatonna. Organic farmers have until August 15 to
Elmer Reseland, Steele County Fair Manager, says the
fair is one of best attended in the state, drawing nearly
40 percent of its total attendance from outside the
county. The annual get-together has adapted to changing
public interests by including events like the organic
"One secret to our success is that we've changed
through the years," said Reseland. "Fairs
have to adapt to their environment and peoples' changing
life styles. Most of the successful county fairs in
the nation have kept their agricultural focus, and by
including organic agriculture and other areas of interest,
Steele County continues to draw huge crowds."
Superintendent of Organic Crops Leo Seykora started
the organic crop class event six years ago to raise
public awareness and elevate the profile of the high-quality
organic crops that Minnesota farmers produce. Because
they are open classes, farmers from outside the county
can choose from 10 classes and 51 lot categories. Entries
may include corn, small grains, sheaf grain, baled hay,
baled straw and stalk corn, and soybeans. An estimated
15,000 people visited last year's educational display
on organic food and farming.
Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) Organic and
Diversification Specialist Meg Moynihan estimates there
are more than 450 certified farms in Minnesota and says
the Steele County Fair is a great example of the growth
of organic agriculture.
"Organic food sales have grown 20 percent each
year for the past 10 years," said Moynihan. "This
growth offers value-added opportunities for both Minnesota
farmers and food companies in the state."
For more information about organic agriculture in Minnesota
contact Meg Moynihan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Steele County fair entry and premium information,
call Leo Seykora at 507-451-2906. Information is also
available at the Steele County Free Fair web site: http://scff.org