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Go old school at the fair: Goodhue County Fair is Aug. 7-11 in Zumbrota

Goodhue County Historical Society volunteer Jim Edlund hosts "Are You Smarter than a 1940s Goodhue County student?" at the rural schoolhouse during the 2017 fair. Photo courtesy of the Goodhue County Historical Society

ZUMBROTA — Want to experience our local history firsthand, while snacking on cheese curds and checking out the best Goodhue County has to offer? Look no further than the rural schoolhouse at the Goodhue County Fair.

The Goodhue County Historical Society — the oldest county historical society in the state — is taking over the schoolhouse this year and bringing the old into our modern lives. Bring your little ones, your friends or visit by yourself. They're offering free programs on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, Aug. 8-10. Attendees need to purchase tickets to the county fair but the event is free.

The fair is in its 157th year, and the Historical Society in its 149th. Both organizations are county institutions, connecting and representing Goodhue County's story since the 1800s. When they both started, North and South Dakota were not yet states, the population of Red Wing was barely over 4,000, and most local jobs were on the farms that dotted Goodhue County. From then to now, both institutions act as meeting places for residents to meet and get to know each other.

Last year, the Historical Society reached 855 people at the fair.

"My favorite aspect of the Goodhue County Fair is the number of people who return to the rural schoolhouse each day," Education & Outreach Coordinator Lindsey Rindo said. "It's rewarding to watch enthusiasm for history grow in the participants."

This year, Rindo designed several new programs, as well as gave existing offerings an upgrade. The gameshow-style "Are You Smarter than a 1940s Goodhue County Student/" will offer new questions and more prizes for kids.

It might be Robin Wipperling's first fair as the society's executive director, but she's no stranger to the Goodhue County get-together.

"The fair has been part of my family's history for generations," she noted. "Being around for over 150 years, you know it has to be a great fair. I am so proud of our county for carrying on this tradition."

Wipperling will be at the schoolhouse on Friday, from noon to 8 p.m. "I would not miss the fair," she said. "Stop on by. I look forward to visiting with everyone!"

The Schoolhouse is in session!

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday:

All three days, kids can step back into the past and enjoy History Story Time. This isn't a dull history lesson. Stop by the schoolhouse at 10 a.m. and noon for storytelling, hands-on artifacts, local history and crafts.

If you're more of the competitive type, test your smarts against past county schoolchildren — and your Goodhue County neighbors. "Are You Smarter than a 1940s Goodhue County Student?" is back with new questions and prizes. Games run during the afternoon.

Wednesday

At 1 p.m., it's Museum Madness! Learn about museums and kids can even create a personal mini-museum, based on their lives.

From 4-8 p.m. kids and adults alike can explore the Toys & Games History Trunk.

Thursday

From 3-5:30 p.m., Hispanic Outreach of Goodhue County visits the schoolhouse to play traditional Hispanic games with kids and adults alike.

At 7:30 p.m., get into the summertime country spirit and listen to a Celebration of Americana Music.

Friday

Trace the history of one Minnesota's most storied county fairs through photographs. From 4-8 p.m., explore the "Till the Cows Come Home" photography exhibit. The 1980s book of the same name will be available for purchase as well.