BLUE EARTH - Yvonne Cory of Easton has a long history with the Faribault County Fair. This year, the fair board has recognized her contributions by naming her Fair Person of the Year.
"First of all, I was overwhelmed, but humbled and honored," when she heard the news, she said.
Coming to the Faribault County Fair when she was a child - when she was Yvonne Wolff and living on a farm on the Faribault/Martin county line - are favorite memories.
"Coming in the west gate here and parking and walking in, you were greeted by the animals," Cory said. "So much fun to see: the different animals, sights, sounds and people. That's one of my mottos, the people make the fair."
Cory didn't participate in fair activities herself until her son Chad started entering different projects as a member of the 4-H Barbers Flyers out of Easton.
"My husband Chuck and I were 4-H Club leaders," she said. "4-H Food Stand, we'd work as a family. Have so much fun, great memories."
As a family and consumer science teacher, Cory was drawn to activities at the fair and began entering in the open class. The fair board asked her and the Future Leaders of America youth group to make flags, so they made 13 of them.
"There's a flag for every city or village in Faribault County," Cory said, "and they were made by students. These students are grown up and have families. They still remember that."
She served as a flower and garden regulations superintendent and served on the fair board from 1987-89.
"While I was serving as a board member, I was building supervisor of Floral Hall," she added, doing everything that's necessary for the exhibits, including cleaning, decorating, setup, and getting judges.
In 2003, she was asked to put together the annual fairbook and given the title ad and marketing representative.
"Nine years I did this job," she said, giving a lot of credit to Shirley Johnson, wife of then-fair president Gary Johnson. "She helped me through. It was a learning experience."
Cory's interest in how the fair started was sparked.
"The whole fair concept - 154 years old - so much tradition," she said. "That's so exciting to me."
The settlers back then wanted to attract more settlers to stay in the area, she said, so they put together the fair to showcase the bounty of the county and all it offered.
For the sesquicentennial in 2010, she compiled a companion book "Celebrating 150 Years" to commemorate the history, some of which she witnessed.
The grandmother of three retired in 2013, but helps the fair by writing grants and serving as one of the building superintendents for Floral Hall.
The Faribault County Fair has held her attention her whole life and still has relevance in the 21st century.
"It's a gathering," Cory said. "It's a once in a year gathering where people can come together, share talents, share stories, to be able to see what's new in our area and the accomplishments.
"I've grown so much by being involved with the county fair," she said. "It's made me who I am today. If I can give back to the people as a result of what I've learned, that's wonderful."