Wright County couple visiting nearly 100 Minnesota fairs

“In the early stages we could hit five fairs in a weekend.”

Edgar Linares
July 17, 2018 - 8:15 pm

By Edgar Linares

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For Liz and Jerry Paetow of Wright County, Minnesota fairs are just part of life. Liz said growing up in Braham she remembers hitting several fairs in one day as a teenager.

“There was a fair in Cambridge, there was a fair in Rush City, and there was a fair in Pine City,” she said. “So we would get together with all my friends and you could go to all three fairs, and you get to know the carnival guys. If you were a cute girl, you could get free rides from the carnival guys.”

Jerry grew up on a dairy farm in western Minnesota on Elbow Lake and was active in 4-H. He said going to a fair was a real privilege.

“It was a challenge to get away to get to go to the fair,” said Jerry.

The love of fairs never wavered with the Paetows. Liz has won Grand Champion Flowers, Grand Champion Baker along with numerous ribbons in canning, photography, and crafts. Jerry was a Grand Champion Vegetable Gardener as well.

By Edgar Linares

Ten years ago, they decided to take their love of county fairs on the road and visit every county fair in the state. There are 87 counties in Minnesota and more than 90 fairs. They have just five more to go and will complete the mission this August.

“In the early stages we could hit five fairs in a weekend,” said Liz. “We have driven six hours in one direction to go to a fair. Spent a half hour because it was a small fair and then turned around and come home again.”

Jerry, a partially retired carpenter, is the organizer behind the statewide tour meticulously planning each fair stop to avoid having to stay overnight. In all ten years, the couple says they’ve only had to stay overnight six times.

Liz and Jerry consider a fair visit stopping at the 4-H building, the 4-H food stand, and the general exhibits building.

By Carrie Paetow

Liz’s favorite fair is of course Wright County’s, where they’re based out of, and Jerry’s is the Dakota County Fair. They may differ on which is their favorite fair but agree on what their favorite fair food is… “Oof-da Tacos”. Some call them fry bread tacos.

"A round fried bread with all the taco seasonings on there, everything that makes a taco,” said Jerry.

The Paetows will finish the tour in southeastern Minnesota at the Houston County Fair in Caledonia. They say this adventure has really given them a chance to see the entire state and meet all kinds of warm people.

Liz and Jerry are considering taking on a new challenge of visiting every State Fair in the United States of America. We’ll let you know if that happens.