Pranges earn top fair honor

BLUE EARTH – When Marlin Prange was asked to serve on the Faribault County Fair board of directors, his wife Joanne thought it was a good idea.

“I thought he’d hold a three-year term and be done with it,” she said.

Twenty-one years later, Marlin is still on the board, and the couple have been named the 2013 Fair Persons of the Year.

“Real honored to be chosen,” Marlin said.

“I don’t feel I deserve it; I think there’s other people,”Joanne said.

The couple, which will celebrate 60 years of marriage later this year, have always lived on a farm outside of Wells.

As kids, Joanne was in 4-H, but Marlin wasn’t. She was into sewing, making an apron and a blouse out of feed sacks her first two years.

“Our [daughters] didn’t care for sewing, but they [exhibited] food,” Joanne said.

Their two girls and three boys also showed pigs, sheep and turkeys.

“The main thing we remember is to scrub up their feet,” Joanne said of the turkeys. “We had a great big tub. Tried to keep them in there but they’d flop all over. They had to have their feet cleaned. That was one of the things that would be judged.”

Their kids grew up and left home; the couple now have 12 grandchildren and three great-grandkids – but the Pranges didn’t stray far from the fair.

“Back in 1992, I was asked by Roger Oldfather and Lester Paschke to be on the board,” Marlin said. “I didn’t say yes right away. We still had livestock and were farming. I knew it’d take a lot of time. Then Marvin Feist and Leroy Larson asked me to be on the board.”

“I didn’t see anything wrong with it, thought it would be good for him,” Joanne said, “but I didn’t think it was gonna be this long.”

Both of them put in a lot of time at the fair. Marlin started the toy show, brought in the llamas, helped with parking, and still takes care of the 4-H building and the Gold Building booths. He also helps with re-setting the tents between events.

“And whatever else I’m asked to do,” he said.

“I started the year after he got in,”Joanne recalled. “Roger Oldfather needed help in the office.”

So that’s what she did for several years. Now, she sorts the Norwegian Fjord Horse ribbons, sells tickets, registers people the first day of the fair, and helps with the pedal pull and veggie races.

“Somebody hollers for help and I’m there,” she said.

They have no plans to stop working at the fair.

“You get to meet people you’ve never seen before, then see them year in and year out,” Joanne said.

“And then have people come up and tell you the good things about the fair,” Marlin added.