FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. - During long days at the fair, it's always nice to find an empty bench to get off your feet.
Many of those benches are dedicated to someone special - including one that honors Jo and Gavin Nachtigall's baby boy, Howie.
"We got engaged at the state fair," said Jo Nachtigall. "Thought about having our wedding at the state fair."
So when Jo and Gavin Nachtigall, from Richfield, had a son, it was only a matter of time before he would get to his first state fair.
"I remember having a picture of him at 8 days old, smiling," Jo Nachtigall said.
That memory turned out to be one of precious few.
"We had him for 10 weeks," she said. "It's really hard to say goodbye after 10 weeks."
Howie died of SIDS - Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
"No matter what you do, sometimes you can't prevent their death. That's a really hard reality," she said.
The reality is, Howie is still here at the fair. Just not in a way you will notice, unless you look carefully.
"It had to be a smiley picture on the bench, so that people could see what a little sunshine he was for us," Jo Nachtigall said.
Howie's bench is right next to the AFL-CIO building.
"I wanted people to see that ... he was here and he had an impact."
Now, Howie's sister is the one experiencing the fair.
"Wish we had your brother here, but I'm glad you can sit on his bench," Jo Nachtigall said.
Her name is Lionheart.
"He's in heaven with Jesus," Lionheart's mother tells her. "Hopefully someday we'll meet him again. ... But not yet. That time is not yet. God still has things for us to do."
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