Between Friday’s excessive heat and Saturday morning’s thunderstorms, nature wasn’t giving the Rice County Fair an easy time. By Saturday afternoon, skies had cleared enough for visitors to venture out.

Carnival rides, which had been closed most of the day, resumed around 3 p.m. Weather also led to the cancellation of the tractor pull and horse show, but there was still plenty for visitors to do, including live entertainment, food and other vendors, barn animals and historical craft demonstrations by the Rice County Historical Society.

Shelly Breitenfeldt, volunteer at the St. Luke’s Church food stand, said sales had been slow so far — but less so than she had expected.

“I was surprised people came down to the fair on Friday,” she said, since the day’s heat indices had soared over 100 degrees.

Other visitors shared similar thoughts.

“It’s so sad, because of the weather,” said Mary Kay Vollmar of Faribault. “Everybody put so much work into it, and it was either too beastly hot or rainy. But so far, the animal exhibits are really nice.”

Meanwhile, visitor Tina Kabes had never worn a sweater to the fair before Saturday, but didn’t mind because the cool weather kept crowds down. Rice County’s fair is her family’s favorite of the summer, she said. For her daughter Madelyn, 8, the day’s highlights were riding the rides and seeing the animals, especially the ducks.

The fair is a beloved tradition for many. It’s a chance for Breitenfeldt and her grandchildren to volunteer together. Don Bowers, who worked alongside Breitenfeldt, returns year after year to see the familiar faces that stop by. Though neither volunteers could quite put the its appeal into words, both agreed that summer wouldn’t be the same without it.

“It’s the fair. I just love the fair,” Breitenfeldt said.

Reach Reporter Anne Kopas at 507-333-3148. Follow her on Twitter @NFNanne.

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