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Wednesday, July 21, 2021

DURING A special Salute to Veterans Friday night the Dawson County Fair Board presented two local veterans with Quilts of Valor. Honorees included Gary Reiber and Dale Biehl, both of Lexington, who were recognized not only for their military service, but their service to the county fair as well. (TOP) Presenting Reiber (left) his quilt were Fair Board members M.J. Hart and Gary Rohde. (BOTTOM) Biehl, (left) looks on as his quilt is unveiled by his granddaughter, Abbie Owens (center) with Hart and Rohde assisting. BARB BIERMAN-BATIE/TRI-CITY TRIBUNE


After a year without funnel cakes, open class and carnival rides, it was evident Dawson County residents were eager to get their favorites and enjoy some new events during last week’s 2021 Dawson County Fair.

There were record crowds at the 4-H Café on Wednesday and Thursday and lots of interest in the inaugural Salsa Contest and Craft Fair. Mother Nature cooperated as well with moderate temperatures and rain to keep things cooled down that came in the middle of the night, allowing all evening events and the carnival to proceed uninterrupted.

Retired Dawson County Extension Educator Bruce Treffer was honored in two ceremonies for his 34 years in the county. He was presented a Lifetime Service Award by the Dawson County Agriculture Society on Thursday during the 4-H Bucket and Feeder Calf Show. Then on Friday current 4-H livestock exhibitors gathered during the 4-H Beef Show to show their appreciation on behalf of all the county 4-H members past and present who benefitted from his tutelage.

Thursday night the fair board sponsored a Salute to Veterans where various veteran’s activities and causes in the county were spotlighted.

Terry Lauby, a director at the Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles, spoke about the museum’s collection and their efforts to connect with veterans through memories. “This equipment is more than nuts, bolts and rubber. These vehicles bring back memories. We need to remember their experiences and sacrifices,” said Lauby.

Max McFarland, who served as crew chief on the six Dawson County Hero Flights, reviewed the program established in 2015 that takes area veterans on a three-day trip to Washington, D.C., to see the various memorials and historic points in the Nation’s Capital.

He noted that so far they have taken 150 veterans and their escorts on Hero Flights with a cost of $60,000 per flight. He related several stories from past trips that solidified the group’s resolve to keep offering the flights. “There’s a lot of healing going on here,” noted one Vietnam veteran during his visit to the Vietnam Memorial.

During the salute the fair board presented Quilts of Valor to two veterans who had strong associations with the county fair over the years. The first quilt was presented to former Dawson County Sheriff Gary Reiber. Reiber enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps at age 17 and served from 1968-72, including time in Vietnam. He then went on to serve 41 years in Dawson County law enforcement with the Sheriff’s Department providing security at the fairgrounds each year during the fair. His quilt was made by a former employee, Dottie Anderson, who now resides in Aurora.

The other quilt was presented to Dale Biehl, who served in the Army’s Special Weapons Service from 1963-65. He noted he still isn’t allowed to talk about his experiences because most of what he did was classified. He had been a part of the fair for years, starting as a 4-H’er, then adult volunteer connected with 4-H and the 4-H Café. His quilt was pieced and bound by his granddaughter, Abbie Owens. Both Biehl and Reiber’s quilts were quilted by Glenda Parker.

A final presentation was given by Jim Bliven who talked about the fundraising efforts to construct an $800,000 Veteran’s Pavilion in Kirkpatrick Memorial Park. According to those involved, the pavilion will have five kiosks containing interactive information on each of the five military branches.

The effort is being spearheaded by local veterans and the Lexington Community Foundation. As of Thursday they had reached $400,000 in donations, meaning they were halfway to their goal, said Bliven.

The two-day craft fair in the commercial building featured booths filled with hand-crafted items and gifts, along with all types of homemade goodies to eat.

Things really heated up Friday afternoon and evening with eager participants in the fair’s Salsa Contest. Judges awarded the following ribbons:

Hottest Red: Jenni Dye

Best Flavor Red: Nancy Grandon

Hottest Green: Lucero Ornelas

Maria Berrios

Then fair-goers were invited to place their votes for their favorite salsa, based on samples provided by each entrant. Each person entering the tasting tent was presented a pinto bean to vote for their favorite and bowl of tortilla chips and then ushered down the line of salsas. The People’s Choice winner with the most bean votes was Maria Berrios.