From the land of sky blue waters… | News, Sports, Jobs


Steve Miner is holding a spare tire cover, one of the many Hamm’s Beer items he has at his home in Winnebago. Miner began collecting cans of beer in the 1970s. He describes his love for Hamm’s memorabilia as more than a hobby: “It’s a passion. “

If you own an old jukebox that needs fixing, or if you have an old beer sign from a liquor store in need of loving care, you’re in luck. Because, located right here in Faribault County, there is a guy who can help you.

Then again, Winnebago resident Steve Miner has a knack for fixing a lot of different things.

He owned, operated and made a living running Miner’s Auto Repair for years at the north end of Main Street in Winnebago.

“I was one of those kids who demonstrated things just to see how they worked” Miner said. “But I could also put things back to keep them working properly so that I didn’t get into trouble with my mom and dad.”

Since he sold his auto repair business earlier this year, Miner can now be found in his store, Hamm It Up, further south on Main Street, where he repairs jukeboxes and Hamm’s Beer signs.

“It’s really not a hobby, I would call it a passion” he comments.

According to Miner, the seeds of this passion were sown many years ago, when he was a young boy visiting his grandparents in St. Paul.

“It’s a story I’ve told before, but my grandparents really didn’t live very far from the state fairgrounds. I was staying with them and Grandma asked me to go to the local bar to find Grandpa ”, he remembers. “Back then, a child could walk safely on the streets and could also enter the bar. They served me an orange soft drink and I sat there staring at a Hamm’s Beer sign. It was a motorized panel known as the Scene-O-Rama. They told me that if I looked long enough I would see the bear stick its head out of the tent. Well, it never did, but the sign made a strong impression on me.

Miner also enjoys sports and Hamm’s Beer has helped sponsor the Minnesota Twins TV shows for many years.

“If you watched the Twins’ baseball on TV, you knew their commercials and their slogans (from the land of the blue waters of the sky) and knew Hamm’s bear.” Miner said. “I started collecting cans of Hamm’s beer in the early to mid-1970s.”

But it’s not just beer cans that Miner collects.

“Whoever was in charge of advertising and promotion for Hamm’s was ahead of his time” he declares. “They had their names on so many articles.”

And then there were the Scene-O-Rama signs.

“Other companies made posters and Hamm’s made motorized signs,” Minor remarks. To top it off, Hamm’s created one of the most recognizable and adorable marketing icons ever in Minnesota – the Hamm Bear. Everyone loves this bear.

Miner was, at one point, employed by Goodyear Tire Company, and the company viewed an employee’s birthday as a personal holiday.

“I would go to Hamm’s Brewery on my birthday and take the tour, drink a few beers, then go to the gift shop and buy one of everything,” he says.

Miner went from being a collector of memorabilia such as beer cans (his collection once numbered over 4,000 cans) to collecting, repairing and restoring old signs.

Word started to spread about his talents and people started coming to him with old signs that were no longer working.

“The environment in the bars was not the best” Minor explains. “Some of the signs just required cosmetic work. Others required more extensive repairs.

In addition to his repair business, he says he’s also partnered with Barry Travis of St. Paul. Together they have a website called

“We use it as a way to acquire and restore old beer memories”, Actions of minors.

His business in downtown Winnebago has a number of jukeboxes, beer signs and memorabilia in various stages of repair. It’s when you walk into his house that your jaw drops.

It starts in the garage where you will see Hamm memorabilia.

Then you walk into his house and soon you see one of the 14 jukeboxes located in Miner’s house, and they are all working.

Soon Miner grabs a remote and starts the first jukebox.

“I figured out how to take a remote control from a ceiling fan and use it to operate this jukebox” he explains.

Enter another room and you come face to face with the oldest jukebox the miner owns, a 1946 Wurlitzer.

“I bought a kit for this one, it now reads compact discs (CDs)” he explains. “Before converting the machine, it could only contain about 20 records. Now it contains 100 CDs.

Not only is the sound coming out of the machine awesome, it’s also fun to watch.

“As the bubble tubes heat up, you can see the bubbles inside the tubes start to move” Comments from minors.

Entering the basement, a person can feel like entering a museum in Hamm.

The basement rooms are filled with Hammer memorabilia, and there is a story behind every piece in Miner’s collection.

“You notice the difference between these signs”, he said, pointing to one of its walls. “The only sign has the slogan we know – From The Land Of Sky Blue Waters. This other sign came from the west, it says – Refreshing like the land of sky blue waters. It’s a way of saying where it comes from.

The last stop of the tour includes souvenirs from Twins.

His ability to fix jukeboxes caught the attention of some of the twins, and the rest is history.

He helped some members of the Twins get jukeboxes and repaired jukeboxes for other players.

A Minnesota Twin he helped is one of the most famous people to wear the Twins’ uniform, Kirby Puckett.

“Kirby came to my house once and I used to play in his pool tournament”, Actions of minors.

News of Miner’s capabilities even reached Australia.

“A man from Brisbane, Australia called and wanted to buy a sign. I said that was not a problem except that I would not ship them because my experience was not good. He came back to me and told me he was going to be in Los Angeles, California for a wedding. He told me he had connections and if I could get the sign to Spencer, Iowa, then he had a way to get it to California, ” Minor explains. “I told him everything was fine, but I asked him how he was going to get it on a plane back to Australia. He said: ‘It won’t be a problem, I own the plane.’

Another aspect of his passion that Miner says he enjoys is the opportunity to help others.

“I am always happy to help new collectors who are interested in it” Miner said with a smile. “I can help them determine if the objects are real or a copy. “

It’s pretty obvious that Miner loves what he does. And many other people, some from as far away as Australia, are also benefiting from his passion.


Comments are closed.