What? No free Fleet Farm T-shirts in Crow Wing County?

The people of Crow Wing County are bummed, realizing that a once-local corporation isn’t quite as “local” anymore, now that it’s been bought by a conglomerate.

The problem? There are no free Fleet Farm T-shirts at the Crow Wing County Fair anymore, the Brainerd Dispatch reports today.

Sure, it’s only a shirt, but it was once a staple of the fair and the people say it reveals that the area has lost its local pal now that the Mills family has sold Fleet Farm to the city slickers at KKR, a global investment firm.

“I don’t think anyone realized how much the Mills family did for us in this community,” said Gary Doucette, manager of the county fair. “We had a really good run. Businesses are bought and sold everyday. People have the right to change the way they do business. It is a business and I completely understand and I am not angry about it. I am happy the Mills family was here for as long as were and did the things they did. This fair wouldn’t be what it is today without them. I am eternally grateful to them.”

The Brainerd Dispatch will be in the Mills Fleet Farm booth spot this year. The newspaper won’t have colored T-shirts, but will have a Plinko game with which people will win a prize. It is one prize per person. The Dispatch will have representatives from each department at the fair at one point or another, as well as someone at the booth to sell subscriptions and to take story tips.

How important are free Fleet Farm T-shirts?

“When I die, I want some of my ashes to be spread at the Fleet Farm spin wheel,” one Brainerd collector told the Dispatch in a 2010 feature.

At least you’ll always have Plinko, Crow Wing County.