There is only one tent at the Sandwich Fair occupied by
the same man and his family since 1937, and the sign in front
says Fritschs Oasis and Conversation Station.
Lyle Fritsch, now 98, and his late brother Wiley originally
rented the tent space to advertise their seed corn business Fritsch
Brothers Hybrids, but once they gave up the business in 1955,
they still decided to rent space for the tent.
It was a good spot for our kids to find us and meet
family and friends, Fritsch said this week. His daughter,
Pam, told me he has eight children, 13 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren,
which pretty much fills up the tent if they all come to the fair
at the same time.
Located on the east side of the grounds, just west of Ticket
Booth One, near Wick Builders, the family welcomes friends and
newcomers to come in and sit a while. Fritsch himself presides
over the gathering in his easy chair or a lawn chair. He said
his family has entered something in the fair every year since
the 1930s through last year. He began growing a special white,
small-kernel sweet corn which he has entered and won ribbons
for. He said his favorite part of the fair is the horticulture
Being a lifelong farmer that is not unexpected.
But Fritsch had two other brief careers in the early years
pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals semipro farm team
and serving in the Army Air Forces during World War II. He even
got a moniker during his
Four generations of the Fritsch family gather each
year at the Sandwich Fair in their own tent. The senior Fritsch,
Lyle, is seated in the center holding one of his great grandsons
Lenyx. (Family provided photo)Lyle Fritsch, now 98, shows the sign he places outside
his familys tent at the Sandwich Fair each year. (Schrader
baseball career, Fireman Fritsch, for his skill throwing
a fast ball that burned into the catchers glove. The local
fire department in Sioux City, Iowa, where his team played, made
him an honorary fireman with a ceremony holding an arch of crossed
axes for him to walk through. It got a loud cheer from
the crowd, he said.
That career ended when Uncle Sam called and he went into
Assigned to C-47 transport planes as a mechanic, he saw action
all over Africa and parts of southern Europe. Those stories could
fill several more columns. But when he was mustered out, he had
injured his pitching arm in a minor plane crash, so he never
found out how far he could have gone in the majors.
Now about the connection with Stan Musial: When playing
in Sioux City, they needed to borrow some uniforms and he was
given the one that had belonged to Stan Musial. That is his only
link to Stan the Man, and he wishes he could have
If you visit the Fritsch family oasis at the fair this
weekend, he will be glad to share more stories, ranging from
World War II and his baseball days to sweet corn and his ever-expanding
Feel free to stop by and say hello.