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 submit entries.
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 crop competition.
"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
For more information about organic agriculture in Minnesota contact
Meg Moynihan at email@example.com.
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