Next week is the start of the one hundred-and-second Steele County Fair. The second county fair took place in September 1919, ten months after the end of World War I. With most soldiers back home by then, the fair was the perfect opportunity to celebrate their service.

The organizers of the fair proclaimed September 17, 1919 as Soldiers’ Day. Veterans of the World War received free admission. Since the fair took place during the American Legion’s national membership drive, Post 77 set up a recruitment tent. Charter members Francis Sawyer and Harold Nelson were on hand to tell prospective members about the Legion.

Unfortunately, rain dampened the attendance of veterans and civilians alike. Still, about 400 former soldiers turned up, accounting for a quarter of the day’s attendees. A veterans’ banquet sponsored by the Red Cross and several churches was a major attraction and a great success. “Let her rain,” said one veteran at the dinner. “We’re sitting pretty.”

View more history for Post 77 in Owatonna, Minnesota