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Citizen of the year

The Goodhue County Fair Board has found itself in some sticky situations in its 150 years. There was the time the board inaugurated female mud wrestling, for instance.

The decision generated controversy, so the figurative mud flew before the fair even began, and the event attracted a crowd. The cleanup, however, produced the most memorable moment.

"See, the fair doesn't have showers," Jim Foss recounted to gales of laughter.

Board members ended up attaching a hose to a milk truck to wash down the contestants.

Foss, who has weathered muddy fairs and humid fairs, rainy fairs and his fair share of dry spells over the years, is the 2010 Goodhue County Citizen of the Year.

The Goodhue County Editorial Association honored him for 50-plus years of dedication. He earned the honor for "a body of work," said Pete Grimsrud of the News-Record in Zumbrota.

Foss' involvement with the fair began while was in 4-H. He showed animals and such. His final year, however, he complained loudly about muddy conditions for hogs and ended up drafted unto the Fair Board, where he's served ever since.

"The salary is still the same it was in 1959: You get one good meal once a year," Grimsrud said.

Kristy Jacobson of the Kenyon Leader noted that Foss became Fair Board president in 2002. He also has a seat on the Minnesota State Fair Board and, if tradition holds, will be its chairman in two years.

As a result of extensive involvement, he was one of five people nationwide to win International Association of Fairs and Expos recognition in November.

"He knows how to run a fair," said Commissioner Richard Samuelson, who spoke on behalf of the County Board. "He has a lot of common sense. I don't know anyone who deserves it more."

In accepting the local citizenship honor, Foss touched on the ups and downs over the years but focused on the people he's met.

"I can go to any state in the union and find someone to talk with," he said.

He also praised the many Fair Board members, who shovel manure and pound nails and do anything necessary to make the annual fair happen.

Their hard work, he said, and the collaborations with other entities continue to make improvements to the fairgrounds possible. Private businesses contribute. Citizen help. County and township boards fund as tax and aid revenues allow.

And there are instances like the one 50 years ago when the Goodhue County Pork Producers helped a young Fair Board member get rid of that muddy floor that made showing clean hogs impossible.

"It all works out," Foss said, turning to include his wife. "Liz and myself have had one heck of a good ride."

Anne Jacobson

Anne Jacobson has been editor of the Republican Eagle since December 2003. 

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