by Cindy Timm
Winona County Fair
July 10 to 14, 2013
103 Years in St. Charles, MN
The Winona County Fair announces that the following people have been named to the 2013 Hall of Fame. Each of these individuals exemplifies the “best” of Winona County— whether that be volunteering in their communities, serving the fair, representing agriculture or being an integral part of the business community in Winona County. The Hall of Fame Honorees will be recognized at the Winona County Fair Recognition Program scheduled for Thursday July 11 at 2:00 PM in the entertainment tent at the fairgrounds in St. Charles.
Wednesday July 10, 2013 - Cyril Speltz Day
When talking with 2013 Hall of Fame member Cyril Speltz, you can hear the pride in his voice that he has followed a family tradition by working in agriculture all of his life as a farmer.
Cyril was raised along with brothers Dave and Richard, and sisters Teresa, Mary Ann, and Geraldine, near Altura, in an area called “Oak Ridge,” on a dairy farm owned by his father. It was on that farm that his love for agriculture began.
“I knew what I wanted to do after I got out of school, and that was to farm… I love the family farm” states Speltz.
Cyril did not venture far from the home place where he grew up, and just down the road he purchased a farm where he and his bride, Mary, moved shortly after their marriage. Mary was a student at College of Saint Teresa in Winona, and that union will celebrate 56 years this coming November.
“Friends introduced us on a blind date more than 50 years ago, and we are still together,” says Cyril with a smile.
The Speltz family includes sons Ronnie (Linda), Randy (Pam), Rick (Shelly) and Robert (Val), and has increased over the years with 12 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren. Cyril and Mary moved a bit down the road once their son Ronnie took over the farm, but still have a wonderful view of their “empire” from the windows of their home.
In talking about farming, Speltz described his operation as following in the footsteps of his dad — milking cows and raising crops like corn, soybeans, and alfalfa. Today, the focus has changed from cows to goats, with his grandson in charge of 500 of those animals. The goat milk is picked up twice weekly and transported to Lancaster, Wis., for cheese making.
Cyril also relates he had a connection with the Winona County Fair as a 4-H member from the Mount Vernon Beacons 4-H Club. He clearly remembers staying overnight in the old cattle barns at St. Charles, and says in 1946 he would have exhibited at the Minnesota State Fair with a champion Holstein, but a polio outbreak that year forced the cancellation of the state fair.
Out in the community, Speltz had also been very active, including roles on the coop board, Knights of Columbus and the Altura Lions Club. He and Mary are also very proud that their children and grandchildren have been involved with the Winona County Fair.
Thursday July 11, 2013 – Frances Edstrom Day
If there is one word that describes Hall of Fame member Frances Edstrom, it would be the word passionate… that passion not only extends to her role as owner of the Winona Post, but to her community involvement in Winona.
Back in 1971, Edstrom and her husband, John, started what was known as the Shopper, and that publication has evolved into the twice-weekly newspaper known by readers in Southeastern Minnesota and parts of Wisconsin as the Winona Post.
“John and I had a vision, and we also needed a job, so you could say we started our business as a necessity… there was no way at that point I could have imagined how the publication would grow,” stated Edstrom.
For Edstrom, there is a lot of pride that the Winona Post is owned locally, and is truly a community newspaper that concentrates on Winona and the surrounding area. She emphasizes that the news can be covered by her staff in a more “in depth” manner. The Winona Post is also known for the editorials penned by both Edstrom, and her husband, John, prior to his death in 2012. “It was a big decision to keep going last year after John died of lung cancer, but I was grateful to have my work at that point, and my staff was so wonderful during that difficult time,” says Edstrom.
Today the Winona Post employs about 22 people full-time. Another 20 on a part-time basis and 160 independent delivery people get the publication to the doorstep of readers twice a week. Edstrom describes her employees as a “family” who care about their jobs, and work hard to make the Winona Post successful.
On the personal side, Edstrom has two daughters. Cassidy and her partner, Angie, live in St. Paul with their son, and Morgan and her husband, Dan, live in Winona along with two daughters.
Out in the community Edstrom has kept very busy over the years on many boards, including the Winona Health Auxiliary, Home and Community Options and the Great River Shakespeare Board.
When asked about the future of the Winona Post, Edstrom is adamant that she is not ready to retire, and plans to be at the helm of publication for some time to come.
“I love my job and love to go to work… we have an important function to tell the “story” to our readers, and I intend to keep doing that for as long as I can,” commented Edstrom.
Friday July 12, 2013 – Garlan Hulbert Day
Anyone who has come in contact with Hall of Fame member Garlan Hulbert knows he has a love and cares for his community of Lewiston. That commitment to community shows in his long history with this Winona County town.
Hulbert was born in Luverne, Minn., and grew up on a farm. During that time he recalls milking cows by hand in a barn with no electricity, turning the handle on the cream separator—a different generation of farming as compared to the farms of today.
“My dad did not want me to farm, so I went to South Dakota State University where my major was Industrial Arts Education, and I also was in ROTC,” says Hulbert about his career path to education.
Following graduation from college, Hulbert served in the Army in Fort Collins, Colo., and after that took a teaching position in Beaver Hills, Minn., starting in 1964. In 1970, his career brought him to Lewiston and he served as an Industrial Arts educator until his retirement in 1998. Aside from classroom duties, Hulbert could also be found taking care of athletic scoreboards and video-taping football games.
In 1964, Hulbert married his wife, Pat, and next year the couple will celebrate their 50th anniversary. That union was blessed by several children, including Keith, Karen and Kevin, and also six grandchildren.
Following his teaching career at Lewiston High School, Garland took on a second career as the custodian at Immanuel Lutheran School in Lewiston, a job which he still holds.
“I like to keep busy, and be out among people… what better way to do that than by continuing to support education through my work at Immanuel,” Hulbert commented.
Hulbert and his wife are also instrumental with the Lewiston Flower Basket project — those beautiful flowers that grace Lewiston during the summer months. He currently notes that there are 41 baskets in place this year, and he and Pat assist with “water wagon” duties. Aside from that he has worked with a committee on a bike trail for Lewiston and was a member of the musical group “Sometimes 8”.
“What you do for your town is important… I care about Lewiston and will do what I can for as long as I can… community is something you need to care about,” states Hulbert.
Saturday July 13, 2013 – Dianne Rislow Day
The community of Lewiston is well known for its concern for the “C” work, meaning cancer, and Hall of Fame member Dianne Rislow has been a major supporter of that cause for her community for 30 years.
When the Lewiston Fools Five Road Race started about 30 years ago, Rislow was there to lend a hand to the committee that coordinated that event. In the early days, Gary Mills ran the race, and Rislow was involved with registration and accounting. For the past 5 years she has served as the director of the Fools Five, an event that has raised about $1.7 million dollars for cancer research over the years.
“I remember the first year… we had 225 runners and raised a little over $2,000… the race headquarters was just the hallway of the high school. It is a good feeling to be involved in such an important cause,” says Rislow.
What started out with a few hundred participants has increased to thousands, and a representation from more than 20 states. The event also now has an auction and a bone marrow registry. Today there is a core committee of 16 people, but that does not include all the volunteers including law enforcement, ambulance crew, and aid station people.
“We have some of the best people involved, and that is a blessing for the Fools Five and the community of Lewiston… it is so important for people to come together and celebrate, and more so that we support one another when someone gets a cancer diagnosis,” emphasizes Rislow.
Next year Rislow is stepping back, but not away as Dan Goss and Andrea Overing take over as co-directors for the Fools Five. Rislow now works as an administrative assistant for a doctor at Mayo Clinic that does pancreatic cancer research. Those hours at work prompted Rislow to pass on the director duties to others.
Rislow was born in Lanesboro, and made her way to Lewiston after her marriage to Jack Rislow. The couple have been married for 43 years. Their children include Carrie (Tony), Christine (Greg) and Brian (Kate) and several grandchildren.
“It is important to be involved in your community, and the Fools Five is a very important cause,” concludes Rislow.
Sunday July 14, 2013 – Elmer Papenfus Day
Hall of Fame member Elmer Papenfus, of St. Charles, has the distinction of likely being the oldest former member of the Winona County Fair Board. At age 91, Papenfus has fond memories of his days on the board back in the 1970s.
He recalls starting at the “bottom” hauling manure generated from the animals exhibited at the fair. Some other duties were working with the Green Thumb group that built the grandstand fence that still stands today, and coordinating the construction of Rentfrow Hall that is now used to house the Art and Photography exhibits. Some other fair board duties also included working on the off-season rental of fair buildings for storage.
“The fair board was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me that I really enjoyed… of course I like to rock the boat when I have an opinion, so that kind of got me in trouble once in awhile… a board needs to work together, so I tried most of the time to do just that,” said Papenfus with a twinkle in his eyes.
Papenfus grew up in Hokah, Minn., one of 13 children, but made his way to the St. Charles area to farm, and also manage a feed store for several years. He is very proud to have been a farmer, and his work raising hogs and cattle. Over the years he sold breeding stock to 4-H members, and he enjoyed working with 4-H members on their projects.
“I had a couple of those fellows come to my 90th birthday open house last year, and tell me how much I had helped them as 4-Hers. That meant a lot to me to hear that,” stated Papenfus.
While much of his land has been sold off, Papenfus and his wife, Beatrice, still live in a home on their remaining 13 acres south of St. Charles. The couple have been married 69 years, and met on a blind date back in the 1940s at the Pla Mor Ballroom. The couple has had a good life, and Papenfus credits Beatrice for being a big part of his success.
“Hard work does not hurt you, and I had a good wife who took care of me,” concludes Papenfus.