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Radels’ memories prompt latest donation to SCFF

fair parking, scff, radel, donation
Wayne Steele, publicity director and vice president of the SCFF Board, shakes the hand of Allan Radel, center, who with his wife Randee, donated 1.4 acres of land to the fair, the only parcel it owns outright. Dan Deml, right, said the land will ease some parking issues during fair week. Staff photo by Kay Fate
Kay Fate, Staff Writer

What may look like just a new parking lot at the Steele County fairgrounds is actually a patch of memories.

“This is where a lot of my time was spent as a kid,” said Allan Radel, of Owatonna, “and my time here was special. 4-H and the FFA were a huge part of our lives, and this is where the 4-H building and the barns were.”

Years later, the barns were torn down to make way for the Four Seasons Centre, as well as another long-standing facility.

“When Cedarview was here, my mother lived here,” Radel said. “She spent many years here, so it was very important to us.”

Now Cedarview is gone, too. In its place: The Radel Family Addition, a new parking lot to be used by the Steele County Free Fair.

Allan and Randee Radel bought the land, then donated it to the Steele County Agricultural Society – or as we know it, the fair.

It’ll be the only parcel the fair will own; the county owns the rest of the land, “and we just couldn’t lose it,” Allan Radel said.

“Al, Wayne (Steele) and I had lunch one day,” said Scott Kozelka, SCFF Manager, “and Al asked what he could do. We gave him a couple ideas, he went back and talked to Randee … and they said they’d help us. We wanted to buy the property next door, the 1.4 acres, for further expansion of the fair. That’s probably the only acreage we’ll be able to buy.”

The fairgrounds are landlocked, essentially, surrounded by other businesses and residences.

“We’re more than happy to help the fair,” Radel said, “and pretty proud to be part of it. Scott and Wayne called me and wanted to take me out for lunch. We went, and they bought lunch, but I was thinking about it later, and that was probably the most expensive lunch that I’ve ever had.”

Though the line drew laughter at the SCFF Board meeting last week, Kozelka was serious about the Radels’ contributions.

“They’ve always been really nice to the fair, but without them, we couldn’t have purchased that land,” he said. “From my heart, thank you very much, thank you for what you do.”

“Well, I’m really appreciative of everybody here,” Radel told the Board of Directors. “One reason we remain in Owatonna is because everybody is always doing their share, helping, donating their time – and this is a prime example, right in this room.”

The parking lot, which is directly north of the Four Seasons, may see a variety of uses.

“What’s really, really, really nice is on entry days and Sunday nights, we can get all those trailers off the street and out of the way,” said Dan Deml, SCFF Board president. “Of all the issues we’ve got, parking is probably the biggest one, and this will help a lot.”

As Kozelka alluded to, it’s not the first time the Radels have helped out. The Allan R. Radel Family Livestock Pavilion, which opened in 2014, was built with the help of a donation from the family. The $700,000, 145-feet by 193-feet building replaced three other barns, including one destroyed by a winter storm.

“Our whole family; Mom and Dad loved coming to the fair,” Radel said, “and we three boys had a lot of fun, and learned a lot of things, so I was excited to share the things I did.”

His wife agreed.

“We’re very happy to do that,” Randee Radel said. “Allan, being from the farm, the fair was important to him, but I’m a city girl. I was born in Owatonna, and I’m sure my mom and dad brought me to the fair when I was probably 2 – and I’m 71 now, so I’ve been walking these grounds for many years.

“I’m just glad to see it growing and staying on top of the game,” she said. “It’s a wonderful fair, and we’ve been to a lot of them. It has a special place in our hearts.”

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