Among the many accolades given during the Goodhue County Fair are the Male and Female Outstanding Senior Citizen awards. This year’s recipients were Howard Ayen of Zumbrota and Kathleen (Kay) Gadient of Goodhue. The winners are picked through a nomination process and the awards were presented in the entertainment tent Thursday evening, August 11th.
Under the pretense of needing to work in the MCCL booth that evening, Kay’s oldest daughter, Linda suggested they head to the fair a little early in order to enjoy a malt and look at the exhibits. Arriving at the MCCL booth, the volunteers told the women they would not be needed and Linda steered her mother toward the ceremony and shushed a few folks who almost gave away the surprise. They were then approached by a relative who enticed them to the beer garden/entertainment tent saying Kay’s nephew was there and wanted to visit with her. A still unsuspecting Kay noticed some of her other children and grandchildren were at the fair but thought nothing of it. Even as her good friend, Marlys McNamara, began the presentation, Kay only wondered why Marlys would be reading about herself as the two women have been involved in a lot of the same activities over the years. It wasn’t until Marlys described the nominee as having 12 children, 40 grandchildren and 65 great-grandchildren that it sunk in that she had been duped into coming to the fair and she was the recipient of the 2022 Outstanding Goodhue County Female Senior Citizen Award.
McNamara nominated Kay for the award highlighting –among other things—her volunteer efforts within St. Columbkill Church over the past 65 years which include the Council of Catholic Women, past Eucharistic Minister and Faith Formation teacher. She has served on many committees and visits shut-in members, offering them communion, prayers, food, or whatever is needed. Kay also delivers meals to Goodhue residents through the Three Rivers Community Action program. She has actively participated in Lions’/Lioness’ programs including hearing and vision screenings, hazardous waste collection, blood drives and the birthday calendar. Kay never forgets her own family’s birthdays or anniversaries and attends all of the celebrations.
Caught completely by surprise, Kay wonders at all her children “keeping their mouths shut for two weeks. They had all sorts of little tricks,” she said while relaying the story. Humbled by the attention, she first noted that she could think of many people deserving of the award and wants to nominate others next year.
The recognition program continued with the presentation of the Outstanding Male Senior Citizen Award. Darla Vieths nominated and presented this honor to Howard Ayen of Zumbrota. Ayen’s volunteer activities center around the VFW and Veterans’ programs. A Vietnam Veteran himself, he has helped plan Zumbrota’s Memorial Day Field of Honor and arranges its 24-hour surveillance, along with organizing the parade and ceremony at the Zumbrota Cemetery. Howard and his wife, Mary were the parade grand marshals in 2018. He is in charge of the VFW flag and is their historian. He is also on the committee creating the Zumbrota Veterans Memorial.
Prior to the Senior Citizen awards, Goodhue County Fairboard member, Chuch Schwartau proclaimed August 11, 2022 “Ray Sands Day” at the fair. Ray Sands of Kenyon is the leader of the Polka Dots band that he helped form in 1949. Ray was presented with a plaque while he and the band were on stage finishing their session ahead of the awards ceremony. They have provided entertainment during the fair for many years. It is interesting to note that they also played for Kay and her late husband, Bill Gadient’s wedding dance in 1954.
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