Wisconsin State Fair Park Board chairman John Yingling commended the farmers attending the Century and Sesquicentennial Farm Awards breakfast at State Fair for the dedication their families exhibited in keeping their businesses going.
He pointed to the many well-known, established companies in Wisconsin that are no longer in business but commended the farmers for keeping their businesses going during good and challenging times.
"Fairgoers come to learn about agriculture, and you are all a testament to what you do," he said.
Secretary of Agriculture Ben Brancel also addressed the gathering, noting, "We're here to celebrate your heritage, your struggles and your successes."
Some of the challenged Brancel mentioned included the drought of the 1930s when his grandfather was farming, the drought of the 1950s when his father was farming, the drought of 1988 when he was farming and the drought of 2012 when his son was running the family farm.
He also mentioned the struggles of depression and sellouts, including in the 1970s when so-called experts were telling farmers to sell out because the future of agriculture did not look good.
"Food security is a concern of every country in the world," he said. "Our country takes food for granted. We in the U.S. have options while others are concerned about getting food and about food safety."
Alice in Dairyland Zoey Brooks congratulated the farm families, noting her family's farm has been in the family for 159 years. "We don't inherit the land we farm," she said. "We are borrowing it for our children."
Fair historian Jerry Zimmerman told the families, "Our fair got started because of agriculture and folks like you."
He pointed out that the first fair was in 1851, a two-day fair in Janesville. He said it began as a plowing contest and cattle show. After moving around a few years, it eventually ended up in West Allis.
Following the program and breakfast, the roll call of Century and Sesquicentennial farms was called and each family received their sign commemorating their farm's heritage.
The Sesquicentennial Farm and Home Award Program, a partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and Wisconsin State Fair, is in its 15th year. The 27 farms honored this year are carrying on Wisconsin's rich family farming tradition.
So far, 674 farms have received the Sesquicentennial Farm recognition. Among the recipients was former Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture LaVerne Ausman, Elk Mound.
Farms honored this year follow.
·Adams County — June Marie and Roy Earl Hesler, Hesler Farms, Grand Marsh; June Marie and Roy Earl Hesler, Hesler Farms, Westfield
·Brown County — Cheryl and Mark Allen, Green Bay; Schott Family Trust, Green Bay
·Buffalo County — Jeanne and Lyle Hofer, Cochrane; Genevieve and Dale Schaffner, Fountain City
·Clark County — Kathleen and Frederick Garbisch, Granton; Janice and Wayne Kuhl, Rella's Way Century Farm, Granton
·Dodge County — Donna Dougan Konkel, Beaver Dam
·Dunn County — LaVerne, John and Jeff Ausman, Melody Pines Farm, Inc., Elk Mound
·Fond du Lac County — Karen Michels, Fond du Lac
·Green Lake County — Jill and Robert Murphy, Neshkoro; Jennifer and Daniel Vinz, Markesan
·Jefferson County — Kathryn and James Rupnow, Ixonia
·Kenosha County — Winifred and Robert Gehring, Burlington
·Kewaunee County — Mary and Jim Beaurain, Deb and Ken Beaurain, Casco
·Lafayette County — Janet and James McDonald, Gratiot
·Manitowoc County — Cecelia Peterson, Barbara Siehr and William Becker Jr., Manitowoc; Tammy and Todd Glaeser, Manitowoc; Maertz Century Farm, Reedsville
·Marquette County — Jones Farm LP, Endeavor; Jill and Robert Murphy, Neshkoro
·Monroe County — Stephanie and Scott Brookman, Tomah
·Outagamie County — James Julius, Appleton
·Pierce County — Marion and Elmwood Elliott, River Falls
·Vernon County — Carolyn and Brian Austin, Ferryville
·Waupaca County — Mary and Raymond Boyer, Clintonville
The Century Farm program was started as part of Wisconsin's Centennial celebration, a 23-day Wisconsin State Fair, which also gave birth to the Alice in Dairyland program. Each year, about 100 are honored. This marks the 40th year that Hillshire Brands Company has sponsored the program.
This year, 136 farms joined the 8,841 Century Farms already honored since the program began in 1948.
Farms honored for being in their family for 100 years follow.
·Barron County — Gerald and Andrew Peterson, Almena; David Wirth, Ridgeland
·Brown County — Rosemary Braatz, Green Bay and Marcia, Taylor and Travis Schultz, Greenleaf
·Buffalo County — Eileen hardy, Double 80, Mondovi
·Burnett County — Carol and Gary Peterson, Grantsburg
·Calumet County — Jeanne and Stephen Keuler, Horst Farms, Chilton
·Chippewa County — Wendy and Mark Bitney, Bloomer; Kim and Steve Siverling, Bloomer
·Clark County — Barbara and John Budzinski, Thorp; Frederick and Kathleen Garbisch, Granton; Pamella and Daniel Kernan, Neillsville; Renee and Allen Marek, Thorp; Holly and John Noah, Thorp
·Columbia County — Katherine and Charles Becker, Pardeeville; Phyllis and Eugene Damm, Damm Farms, Inc., Columbus; Lorraine and Harland Hartmann, Lodi; Karen and Sherwin Koopmans, Cambria; Jeanie and Glenn Lewis, Rio
·Crawford County — Kathleen and Daniel Becwar, Prairie du Chien; Patricia Fishler, Prairie du Chien; John Thompson, Ferryville
·Dane County — Jane and Craig Mickelson, Sara Amble, Black Earth; Gail and Roger Hermanson, Edgerton; Jack Olson, Stoughton; Elizabeth Riley, Waterloo; Karen and Marvin Stiemke, DeForest; Estate of Henry Stier, Sun Prairie; Diane Erb and Clarence Sutter, Mount Horeb
·Dodge County — Nancy Kavazangian and Charles Hammer, Hammer & Kavazangian Farms, Beaver Dam; Donna Dougan Konkel, Beaver Dam; Glenn Mason, Oconomowoc; Qualmann Family, Wildcat View Farms, Inc., Iron Ridge; John Schwefel, Fox Lake
·Dunn County — Kendra, Don, Becky and David Clark, Clark Ridge Farm, Boyceville; Julie and Jerry Hiben, Boyceville; Roxane and John Schaefer, Menomonie
·Eau Claire County — Loren Gorell Family Farm, Cadott
·Fond du Lac County — Linda Scharrer and Robert Kimla, Eden; Karen Michels, Fond du Lac; Cynthia and Danny Pucker, Eldorado; Cheryl and Steven Wessing, Byron
·Grant County — Charles Bickford Family Farm, Montfort; Phyllis and Albert Ertz, Glen Haven; Helen, Francis, Sharon and Dale Vosberg, Cuba City; Waltz Farm Partnership, Boscobel
·Green County — Phyllis and Fritz Badertscher, Brodhead; Cindy and Keith Binder, Monticello; Candee and Jay Christen, Belleville; Donavon Luchsinger, Brooklyn; Doris, Dean, Rebecca and Matt Streiff, New Glarus; Raymond Thomann, Belleville
·Green Lake County — Jill and Robert Murphy, Neshkoro; Schram Farms LLC, Berlin
·Iowa County — Jeanie and Glenn Lewis, Dodgeville; Melissa and Michael Pisczor, Blanchardville
·Jackson County — Jessie and Kurt Ristey, Melrose; Craig Oliver, Hixton
·Jefferson County — Michelle, Stanley, Danielle and Gordon Schmidt, Ixonia
·Juneau County — Jean and Charles Cook, Camp Douglas; Anita, Kevin and Aaron Crowley, Lyndon Station; Lois Scott, New Lisbon
·Kewaunee County — Jodi Parma and Sylvester Parma, Jr., D & M Polled Herefords, Kewaunee
·LaCrosse County — Jodi and Dustin Anderson, Mindoro; Shirley and Michael Hesse, Mindoro; Debra and James McClintock, Bangor; Pfaffsview Farms LLC, Mindoro; Susan Strehl, LaCrosse
·Lafayette County — Eveyln Coulthard Gensler, Shullsburg; Sheila and Russ Ruegsegger, South Wayne; Brenda and Mark Whalen, Darlington; Fred Wolfe, South Wayne
·Lincoln County — Arlene and Henry Wilharms, Merrill
·Manitowoc County — Maertz Century Farm, Reesville; Betty Popp, Manitowoc
·Marathon County — Kathy Schlund, Hatley; Walter Wellhoefer, Stratford
·Marquette County — Jill and Robert Murphy, Neshkoro; Zuehls Farms, Montello
·Monroe County — Virginia and Charles Weiner, Sparta
·Oconto County — Joan and Ronald Koerzeniewski, Krakow
·Outagamie County — Sandra Thern Fuller, New London; Olson's Best Dairy, LLC Shiocton
·Ozaukee County — Kasten Farm LLC, Cedarburg, Lorrie and Kevin Riemer, Mequon
·Pepin County — Marie and Keith Ericson, Turtle Hill Farms, Pepin; Larua Hayden, Hayden Family Farm, Mondovi
·Pierce County — Patricia and Wayne Dodge, Ellsworth (two properties); Jill White Downey, River Falls; Marion and Elwood Elliott, River Falls; Fetzer Farms, Inc., Elmwood; Lana and Gerald Filkins, Prescott; David Kusilek, River Falls; Pauline and Roger Laughnan, Beldenville; Thomas Lewis, Plum City; Susan and Michael Moldenhauer, Hager City
·Polk County — Stevie and Dan Peper, Centuria; Bryan, Bruce and Steve Voss, Crescent Moon Farm Trust, Balsam Lake
·Price County — Rebecca and Dennis Kempen, Kennan; Antoinette and Walter Klimowski, Phillips; Alice Scullin Living Trust, Butternut
·Richland County — Sandra and Norman Fruit, Viola; Midge and Daniel McCauley, Hillsboro
·Rusk County — Kathleen and Walter Stanger, Rolling Green Acres, Ladysmith; Florence Witmer, Conrath
·Sauk County — Richard, Ronda and Doris Lehman, LD&R Farm, Inc., North Freedom
·Shawano County — Shirley and Ralph Dalke, Wittenvberg; Raymond Hangartner, Bowler
·Sheboygan County — Christine and Roy Herzog, Sheboygan Falls
·St. Croix County — Barbara Krueger, New Richmond; Andrew Lamb, Wilson; Jean and William Peavey, Woodville
·Trempealeau County — Anne and Peter Gierok, Independence; Ricardo and Scott Halama, Independence
·Vernon County — John Briggson, Viroqua; Angela Cina, Veroqua; Linzi and DuWayne Gronning, Westby; Dennis Hagen, Westby; Judy and William Kouba, Hillsboro; Kimberly and David Lind, Hillsboro; Lynn and Terry Nelson, DeSoto; Renee Evangeline and Ramon Olson, Viroqua; Sara and Todd Wedwick, Viroqua
·Walworth County — Georgia Kestol-Bauer, Whitewaer; Anne and Norlan Rowbotham, Walworth
·Washington County — Donald Miske, Allenton; Barbara Wilkens and A R Bob Odell, West Bend; Russell Family Farm, Hartford
·Waukesha County, Mae and Francis Mehringer, Sussex
·Waupaca County — Joanne and Randall Tellock, Clintonville; Gary Thorpe, Clintonville; Virgina and Ronald Zemple, Manawa
·Waushara County — Ruth Albert, Edwin and Timothy Bohn, Hancock; Sandra and Michael Urban, Almond
·Wood County — Sue, Paul and Dennis Behselich, Behselich Farm, Pittsville
Hillshire Farm, sponsors of the event, have an equally long history in the state. Fritz Bernegger, a professional butcher, sausage maker and meat cutter, was born in Austria and came to Wisconsin in 1926 when he bought a small meat market with Billy Schmidt in New London.
By 1934, they grew the business to include two supermarkets and a slaughterhouse. From that point, until 1988, operating as Hillshire Farm, the company continued to grow, ultimately merging with Kahns to form one of the nation's largest meat producing companies.
Today, Hillshire Farm continues as a major meat brand of Sara Lee Foods, which is a division of Sara Lee Corporation.