Folks like their Stevens County Fair Food. We posted a poll on favorite fair food on our website and asked about it on our Facebook page during the Aug. 6-11 fair.

The response was enthusiastic as people chose from fries, hamburgers or anything on a stick in the poll. Facebook comments included cheese curds, tri tip steak sandwiches, taco in a bag and others. But few folks may have been as enthusiastic about a fair food than Sarah Eckel.

Eckel drank 22 servings of watermelon water from the Mi Mexico food stand at the fair. Eckel’s love of the drink and her consumption created a bit of a cult following on her Facebook page. Eckel would post a photo of watermelon water each day, sometimes more than once to keep her social media friends updated on her consumption.

“My friends get a kick out of it,” Eckel said of the posts. “If posting a picture of watermelon water amuses people, it’s not too much for me to do.”

Eckel works for the office of community engagement at the University of Minnesota Morris, so in a way, it’s no surprise she’d engage the community in her experience at the fair.

She said people began to ask her about the watermelon water and told her they looked for a Facebook post and update each day. But Eckel’s posts about watermelon water were not just to amuse people.

Eckel loves the stuff. “When it comes to summer watermelon is an iconic (part) of summer,” Eckel said. In general, “watermelon water is only available during the fair. For me, there is only a small window of time to enjoy it. And I take full advantage of it.”

It’s a refreshing drink. “It tastes like summer.I feel hydrated and satisfied.”

She started posting photos of the beverage last year and people told her to post this year.

She drank only 12 glasses of watermelon water in 2017. More than that in 2018. She was hoping for 24 this year. Did I mention she loves the stuff?

But there’s more than the fun and love of the drink. To Eckel, the fair is made for people to try different foods and drinks.

“That’s the thing. The fair is so accessible,” Eckel said. Because the fair is free, people have money to spend on trying different foods and drinks, she said.

Eckel has different responsibilities related to the fair including helping her kids with 4-H projects. “I’m at the fair nearly everyday. Why not eat there? Why not try different foods?”

A free fair also allows people and families to attend the fair more than once so eating and trying new foods doesn’t have to be a one day sprint, Eckel said. “You can marathon the event.”

Part of Eckel’s marathon was 22 glasses of watermelon water.

If Mi Mexico hadn’t run out of the drink on Sunday evening, Eckel would have drank glasses 23 and 24.

But, there is always next year. And that’s a good thing not just for Eckel but for all of us. We get another chance to get our favorite foods and drinks. Eckel would recommend trying the watermelon water.