Growing up, the Winona County Fair was an important annual milestone in St. Charles for John Schaber.

After all, Schaber's father, Richard Schaber, served as the fair's treasurer for 50 years and was inducted into the fair's hall of fame in 1987.

"For my entire life, the fair has been an important thing," said John Schaber, mayor of St. Charles.

ALSO READ:

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Honestly, Schaber said, there's not much the city does to make the fair happen each year. City staff make sure the power is on at the fairgrounds, and ensure the streets are in good shape.

City Administrator Nick Koverman added that the city provides police, fire and ambulance coverage during the fair.

What the city gets, though, is the big benefit of thousands of people pouring into town for the better part of a week.

"The fair in St. Charles is a big deal," Schaber said. "The people who come stop in our restaurants and our stores; they fill up at the gas stations."

Best of all, people who don't necessarily come to St. Charles on a regular basis spend time in the city during the fair. That includes – with the city's location between Winona and Rochester – people from two counties, not one, Schaber said.

Rose Grover, 18, and her stepmom, Jenny Grover, give Rose's cousin Hayley Gleason, 4, of Indianapolis, a 4-H medal for helping Rose get a reserve champion ewe ready for a show at the Wabasha County Fair Thursday, July 15, 2021, in Wabasha. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Rose Grover, 18, and her stepmom, Jenny Grover, give Rose's cousin Hayley Gleason, 4, of Indianapolis, a 4-H medal for helping Rose get a reserve champion ewe ready for a show at the Wabasha County Fair Thursday, July 15, 2021, in Wabasha. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)

Then there's the way the fair builds a sense of community.

"A lot of kids who go to our schools are farm kids," Schaber said. "If they've got an animal to show, even the town kids come out to see their classmates."

Like Schaber, Kasson Mayor Chris McKern is happy to see the Dodge County Fair in his town each year bringing dollars into the community.

Derek Frank, of Utica, sits between his four Alice Chalmers tractors at the Winona County Fair Thursday, July 8, 2021, in St. Charles. After a year without the Winona County Fair in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fair is back in 2021. "It's good to be back," said Frank. "This is usually my perch every year," he said. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Derek Frank, of Utica, sits between his four Alice Chalmers tractors at the Winona County Fair Thursday, July 8, 2021, in St. Charles. After a year without the Winona County Fair in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fair is back in 2021. "It's good to be back," said Frank. "This is usually my perch every year," he said. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)

"When there’s that many people in town for four or five days, it’s very good for the town," McKern said. "They may park on Seventh Street by the Aquatic Center and come back for that at a later time."

In Zumbrota, City Administrator Brian Grudem said the Goodhue County Fair provides a venue for people to come to town from the surrounding communities.

"We fill up that big parking lot each night, especially event nights," Grudem said. "Depending which way you’re coming into town, people are gassing up, stopping in at the restaurants."

Jeff Henry, of Henry's Concessions, puts a pork chop on the grill at his concession stand at the Winona County Fair Thursday, July 8, 2021, in St. Charles. "It's fun to see people that you see year after year," said Henry of being back this year after a year off. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Jeff Henry, of Henry's Concessions, puts a pork chop on the grill at his concession stand at the Winona County Fair Thursday, July 8, 2021, in St. Charles. "It's fun to see people that you see year after year," said Henry of being back this year after a year off. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Children ages five to 10 wait their turn for the coin scramble, where quarters were hidden in the saw dust and kids have to dig for them, during the Wabasha County Fair Thursday, July 15, 2021, in Wabasha. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Children ages five to 10 wait their turn for the coin scramble, where quarters were hidden in the saw dust and kids have to dig for them, during the Wabasha County Fair Thursday, July 15, 2021, in Wabasha. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Kayla Sheehan, 6, of Theilman, digs for quarters during the coin scramble at the Wabasha County Fair Thursday, July 15, 2021, in Wabasha. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Kayla Sheehan, 6, of Theilman, digs for quarters during the coin scramble at the Wabasha County Fair Thursday, July 15, 2021, in Wabasha. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Kyli Ketchum, 14, who lives in rural Winona County, sits with a Jersey winter calf at the Winona County Fair Thursday, July 8, 2021, in St. Charles. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Kyli Ketchum, 14, who lives in rural Winona County, sits with a Jersey winter calf at the Winona County Fair Thursday, July 8, 2021, in St. Charles. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Evvy Kamau, 9, looks down at her brother, Bensen, 7, as the two climb on a combine at the Winona County Fair Thursday, July 8, 2021, in St. Charles. Cindy Timm, president of the Winona County Fair Board, said they're happy to be back. "Our Fair Board has always called it a family reunion, because the people that work in the office are coming together once a year," Timm said. "It's a big event here in St. Charles," she said. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Evvy Kamau, 9, looks down at her brother, Bensen, 7, as the two climb on a combine at the Winona County Fair Thursday, July 8, 2021, in St. Charles. Cindy Timm, president of the Winona County Fair Board, said they're happy to be back. "Our Fair Board has always called it a family reunion, because the people that work in the office are coming together once a year," Timm said. "It's a big event here in St. Charles," she said. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Tyler Kreidermacher, 18, of Rolling Stone, waters a friend's foundation simmental heifer at the Winona County Fair Thursday, July 8, 2021, in St. Charles. After a year without the Winona County Fair in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fair is back in 2021. Kreidermacher said it he liked getting to see friends that he didn't get to see last year because of the pandemic. "It's was actually kind of exciting to get to catch up and see what they did over the last year," he said. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Tyler Kreidermacher, 18, of Rolling Stone, waters a friend's foundation simmental heifer at the Winona County Fair Thursday, July 8, 2021, in St. Charles. After a year without the Winona County Fair in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fair is back in 2021. Kreidermacher said it he liked getting to see friends that he didn't get to see last year because of the pandemic. "It's was actually kind of exciting to get to catch up and see what they did over the last year," he said. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Kelsey Kronebusch, 11, of Lewiston, gets a black-faced wether dam ewe ready for a show at the Winona County Fair Thursday, July 8, 2021, in St. Charles. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Kelsey Kronebusch, 11, of Lewiston, gets a black-faced wether dam ewe ready for a show at the Winona County Fair Thursday, July 8, 2021, in St. Charles. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Wayne Young, of St. Charles, works on his Minneapolis Moline Four Star tractor at the Winona County Fair Thursday, July 8, 2021, in St. Charles. Young said he had some mechanical problems on the way to the fair, and that he hadn't had the tractor out since the 2019 Gladiolus Days event because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Wayne Young, of St. Charles, works on his Minneapolis Moline Four Star tractor at the Winona County Fair Thursday, July 8, 2021, in St. Charles. Young said he had some mechanical problems on the way to the fair, and that he hadn't had the tractor out since the 2019 Gladiolus Days event because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Kevin Klemm, of Manawa, Wis., rides the bull, Seeing Red, during the Rice Bull Riding Challenge Friday, July 16, 2021, at the Dodge County Free Fair in Kasson. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Kevin Klemm, of Manawa, Wis., rides the bull, Seeing Red, during the Rice Bull Riding Challenge Friday, July 16, 2021, at the Dodge County Free Fair in Kasson. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Carson Norsving, 7, of Kasson, rides a carousel while celebrating his brother, Jackson's sixth birthday during the Dodge County Free Fair Thursday, July 15, 2021, in Kasson. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Carson Norsving, 7, of Kasson, rides a carousel while celebrating his brother, Jackson's sixth birthday during the Dodge County Free Fair Thursday, July 15, 2021, in Kasson. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Rowdy Slowinski, 7, of Blooming Prairie, takes part in the "mutton bustin" event during the Rice Bull Riding Challenge Friday, July 16, 2021, at the Dodge County Free Fair in Kasson. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Rowdy Slowinski, 7, of Blooming Prairie, takes part in the "mutton bustin" event during the Rice Bull Riding Challenge Friday, July 16, 2021, at the Dodge County Free Fair in Kasson. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Samuel Horning, 11, of Oslo, shows that there are no mini donuts in his mouth after finishing first in a mini donut eating contest during the Dodge County Free Fair Thursday, July 15, 2021, in Kasson. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Samuel Horning, 11, of Oslo, shows that there are no mini donuts in his mouth after finishing first in a mini donut eating contest during the Dodge County Free Fair Thursday, July 15, 2021, in Kasson. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Fair-goers ride the ferris wheel at the Dodge County Free Fair Thursday, July 15, 2021, in Kasson. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Fair-goers ride the ferris wheel at the Dodge County Free Fair Thursday, July 15, 2021, in Kasson. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Stella Streich, 15, of West Concord, gets ready for a 4-H showmanship class during the Dodge County Free Fair Thursday, July 15, 2021, in Kasson. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Stella Streich, 15, of West Concord, gets ready for a 4-H showmanship class during the Dodge County Free Fair Thursday, July 15, 2021, in Kasson. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Trista Henning takes a photo of her children, Cam, 5, Harper, 3, and Asher, 7, during the Dodge County Free Fair Thursday, July 15, 2021, in Kasson. Henning, of Rochester, said she and her family enjoy going to the county fairs surrounding Rochester. "We missed them," said Henning about not having any fairs in 2020. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Trista Henning takes a photo of her children, Cam, 5, Harper, 3, and Asher, 7, during the Dodge County Free Fair Thursday, July 15, 2021, in Kasson. Henning, of Rochester, said she and her family enjoy going to the county fairs surrounding Rochester. "We missed them," said Henning about not having any fairs in 2020. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Sawyer King, 13, hooks a guernsey dairy cow he is showing up to a milking machine during the Wabasha County Fair Thursday, July 15, 2021, in Wabasha. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Sawyer King, 13, hooks a guernsey dairy cow he is showing up to a milking machine during the Wabasha County Fair Thursday, July 15, 2021, in Wabasha. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Children run past various food vendors at the Winona County Fair Thursday, July 8, 2021, in St. Charles. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Children run past various food vendors at the Winona County Fair Thursday, July 8, 2021, in St. Charles. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)