In 1860 a group of newly-minted state citizens gathered in Owatonna to create what would become known as the Steele County Free Fair. 158 years on, Minnesota’s largest county fair – free to the public since 1927 – brings together more than 300,000 folks and runs from Aug. 14 to Aug. 19 at the Steele County Fairgrounds in Owatonna. Live music, carnival rides, great food and this year’s Butterfly Encounter notwithstanding, the fair is primarily still an agricultural event featuring more than 2,000 animals, and a proud celebration of Minnesota’s farming past, present and future. And as if to connect you to the ghosts of fairgoers past, the neighboring Village of Yesteryear – an outstanding collection of lovingly-preserved 19th-century homes and businesses – will be free to fairgoers during the week. Enjoy the rides, dance to the music, pet a big-eyed calf and thank your great-great-grandparents for all their hard work. For more information, go to scff.org.