The Wisconsin Farm Report Radio Network is proud to again be a partner with the Wisconsin Fair Association’s annual “Everybody Has A Fair Story” campaign. Winners submissions are inserted below.
Bob Williams, former Fairs Coordinator for the WI Department of Ag, Trade and Consumer Protection, was one of the great story tellers in the fair industry. He loved to share his stories, but even more he loved to hear people share their fair stories.
Every year millions of people attend county, district or state fairs and tell their friends about the great time they had. Maybe it was your first encounter seeing a cow, riding the Ferris wheel, eating a corn dog, serving as superintendent for 30 years, or even getting engaged; but it happened at the fair. Now it’s time to share your story with the rest of the state. The future of fairs is very important in our counties, as well as in our state, but we also must promote the history of our fairs to the general public.
The Wisconsin Association of Fairs was excited to receive more than fifteen entries for the “Every Person Has A Fair Story Contest”. People were asked to submit their Wisconsin fair story in 200-400 words this past November.
The winners were announced at the annual Wisconsin Association of Fairs Convention at the Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells on Monday, January 8, 2018 during the opening session.
Entries were divided into four districts and judged. Here are the first and second place entries in each district.
- First Place: Wendy Reinhardt, WI Valley Fair
- Second Place: Jessica Klumpp, Florence County Fair
- First Place: Linda Degner, Washburn County Fair
- Second Place: Carol Ahlgren, Pierce County Fair
- First Place: Elizabeth Cook, Sauk County Fair
- Second Place: Linda Quam, Durand Fun Fest
- First Place: Tiffany Nohl, Manitowoc County Fair
- Second Place: Judy McGlin, Calumet County Fair
First place entries from each district were awarded $50 prizes. The Wisconsin Farm Report Radio Network, Compeer Financial, The Country Today, and National Tractor Pullers Association sponsored the prizes.
District 1: First Place
Wendy Reinhardt, WI Valley Fair
You can learn a lot from Barn Duty
Some people say I have OCD on occasion. My husband says he can dust and I can walk right behind him moving items a quarter inch in either direction. It doesn’t look any different to him, but to me it makes all the difference in the world. I guess, I owe some of the credit to my twin 4-H leaders, Cindy and Sandy.
I loved the week of the fair! There were parts that we dreaded at times but overall it was the greatest time of the year!
Prior to the fair, we would have workshops at our farm for the dairy exhibitors. Cindy and Sandy would act as judges in the ring as we would take animals around learning the ins and outs of showing. I use to hate how picky they were, but now realize it was just making us better. A lot of hard work went into showing before the fair even came.
When it was fair time, we’d head into the fair to wash cattle and clean barn by 4:30 a.m., and I certainly wasn’t a morning person. But there would be Cindy and Sandy greeting us and encouraging us to get everything done to make our exhibit look great for the day. Some people were on the wash rack, some people were walking animals, and others were working in the barn, either forking out manure, emptying the wheelbarrow or putting down fresh straw. It was an entire team effort.
Everyone was assigned to barn duty shifts in teams of two to keep things looking great throughout the day for all the fairgoers. We had barn duty vests to wear. Yes, red one with Rib View Ramblers written on the back, and yes we had to wear them. Not with pride, but because that was part of the job. Seriously, what teenager looks good in a red vest and a pitch fork? I remember hearing them yell “telephone” when an animal would crap and we had to “pick it up”. We’d have to pack the straw in a straight line… and it better be straight or we would have to redo it! After liming the isle, if there was straw that got kicked out onto it by a cow, they had you pick it up by hand to ensure everything looked perfect!
Cindy and Sandy were hard on us but it was always worth it when we won the herdsmanship award. It filled us all with such pride, knowing that our hard work paid off.
So yes, I have to have things just so in my house, but I guess I’m going to blame the Wisconsin Valley Fair, or at least Cindy and Sandy for that! We reminisce about barn duty every time we see them. It just makes me smile!
District 2: First Place
Linda Degner, Washburn County Fair
Smiley was the first heifer calf that I showed at the Washburn County Fair. She was completely white except for a few black spots. Teaching her to lead, with my homemade rope halter, was easy. She enjoyed our daily training sessions because she knew there was a scoop of grain waiting for her when we returned to the barn.
Entry day, dad hoisted the side boards up onto our old green pickup truck and we loaded Smiley, her food and grooming supplies. At the fairgrounds she romped happily down the loading ramp only to stop abruptly before crossing the threshold of the Dairy/Beef barn. Dad showed me how to properly tether an animal at the fair for its safety. The sights and smells of our new location had completely consumed my attention and I felt like Templeton in Charlotte’s Web. I too needed to explore this new place.
City water did not agree with Smiley so dad returned home to get our well water leaving me in charge of my heifer. She appeared restless and I thought a walk would calm her. She was more than I could handle so I put her back in her stall and tied her off with a slip knot. I was bound to do it right in case she got into trouble. I dished out a little extra grain for good measure and off I went.
I was gone for just two minutes…ok maybe ten. I visited the carnival and found some ice cream. When I returned to the barn Smiley was missing. My heart stopped beating as I looked around. Outside the big east door I caught a glimpse of my heifer kicking up her heels as she headed straight for the DNR Fish Hatchery. Tears welled up in fear as I watched an older 4-Her grab the end of her halter rope pulling her up short just before she reached the rearing ponds. I was embarrassed and grateful all at the same time as I thanked him.
Even without cell phones news traveled fast and my mother who was working in another building was on the scene before Smiley was returned to the stall.
In spite of her freedom run, Smiley and I had a great fair and she was awarded a white ribbon. The judge noted…She may have spent a little too much time in the grain pan.
District 3: First Place
Elizabeth Cook, Sauk County Fair
As the sun begins to set in the horizon, everyone starts to settle in, the air is filled with the excitement of the days to come. Waterers filled, fresh clean shavings in place, Becky paces and tries to become familiar with her new home, for the next five days. This isn’t her first fair, but it will be her and her owners last; my son, the last of my kids to be a youth exhibitor at the Sauk County Fair, would have his final, last hurrah. With fondness, I recall that first year, when he was a Cloverbud; now, what seems like yesterday, is just a fond memory, tugging at my heart strings. The fresh-faced anticipation and excitement of that first project, the look in those blue eyes when he got his first ribbon; that grin from ear to ear. As a Cloverbud, getting that first ribbon, all was right with his world.
Fast forward to today, the final hurrah. Years of hard work and dedication, cumulating, to a few tense moments in a show ring. As my son prepared for the final show, I cherished the memories of past shows, and felt his excitement, the charge in the air, wondering, hoping, praying that hard work and preparation with his animal would be good enough, would be his best, would be “The Best!”
As he slowly enters the showmanship ring, we try not to make eye contact, hoping he listened to all those years of advice, hoping it’s his turn to shine. In the ring, it’s friend against friend, goat against goat, his knowledge and style separating him by a thread, until finally, as he lifts his head up and our eyes meet, we realize; he is at the front of the line. Suddenly, eleven years of hard work, the hours, upon countless hours of sweat and tears, coming down to this moment in time, when you realize, the trophy is his! His name, with those chosen every year before him, will be engraved on the showmanship traveling trophy.
When time seems to have slipped away, and my baby grows up, and I wonder, how can I send him out in this crazy world? I can stop and enjoy, if only for a moment, the joy in my heart from the experiences of my children at the Sauk County Fair, and know, all is right with the world!
District 4: First Place
Tiffany Nohl, Manitowoc County Fair
Passion for the fair is something that runs in my family and it started with my parents. My Mom and Dad had a love for the fair that grew every year. I attended my first fair when I was only 13 days old. I am proud to say I have been going to fairs for 29 years and I look forward the fair every year.
I grew up with my siblings showing a long list of projects. Our parents encouraged us to show as many things as possible and to give it our best effort. When I was old enough to join my brother and sisters I jumped right in.
The fair is a place we could show our projects and spend time connecting with old friends and meeting new ones. We worked hard to get our home farm chores done and then off the fair. We have many great laughs as we reminisce about the fair as children. A story that comes to mind is my sister winning the grand champion hog and my brother claiming he did all the work of training and feeding of her pig , Fred. To this day there is a debate as to who did more work…I guess we will never know. We always worked on projects up to the day they were to be exhibited. My oldest sister even finished sewing a pair of shorts on the car ride to the fair to get them judged. They were the best shorts and they lasted for years.
There are so many parts I love about the fair. A favorite is food. As a youth I enjoyed a lot of shaved ice. My record was twenty seven in one fair. I still enjoy one every time I am at a fair, just not as many as I use too. My Dad loved cheese on a stick, it was a must every year and don’t forget the teeny weeny donuts.
Even when my parents needed wheel chairs to get around, we would go to the fair. The fair was a place of joy and community for my parents and they instilled that for the next generations. Our family is still very active in the fair and my nieces are carrying on the fair tradition. As a family we go to fairs all over the nation because of my parents love for the fair.