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Creative persistence keeps Steele blues fest going
Joni Hubred, News Editor
Heart of Steele, bbq, smokin' in steele, blues, owatonna, 2022

When people told me that Steele County has an annual blues and barbecue festival, I might have let out a little bit of whoop.  

So much about this area has surprised me, but nothing more than Smokin’ in Steele, which brings nationally known musicians and world-class barbecue to the Steele County fairgrounds this weekend. I fell in love with the blues years ago, during a class called “History of Rock and Roll.” 

There, I learned about how the blues emerged in the southern U.S. from the songs sung by African slaves, how agricultural workers who migrated to more industrialized cities in the north brought their music with them. Hearing its history made the music even more meaningful.  

That is part of the reason I’m looking forward to Smokin’ in Steele. I also love barbeque, slow cooked over hickory wood, the kind you can smell from blocks away.  

But what I look forward to most is yet another opportunity to appreciate how people in our community come together for worthy causes. A festival is always fun and exciting, but behind all that entertainment is support for local Special Olympians and Let’s Smile, which provides dental education and services for kids.  

Event manager John Hammer told me it’s tough to bring an event back after one year off; after two, you’re starting all over. Still, he and Knights of Columbus, which produces the event, and 200 volunteers will show up this weekend in the heart of our community.  

I’ll be there. And I hope you will, too.  

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