At the International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE) 122nd Annual Convention, Jayme Buttke of the Wisconsin Association of Fairs, was honored with the Rising Star Award, according the IAFE President and CEO Jim Tucker.
The convention is taking place Nov. 25-29, at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, NV.
The Rising Star Award was created by the IAFE Young Professionals Initiative (YPI) to recognize leadership and industry contributions of IAFE members, age 40 and younger. Nominees are any employee, volunteer, or board member under age 40 of a member fair, show, exposition, or exhibition in good standing with the IAFE.
The award was presented by National FFA Officer Tiffany Rogers.
Buttke grew up on a registered Holstein dairy farm, where her family farmed 250-acres and milked 70 cows.
Being the youngest of four siblings, her chores were chosen for her. While her sisters got to stay in the house to clean, cook, and do laundry she was sent out to the barn to shovel manure with her brother.
"I really do think I got the better deal as I spent a lot of time working with the animals and working in the fields," said Buttke.
In 1998, Buttke married her high school sweetheart Mike. They grew up three miles apart as kids, but were on different bus routes, so she never knew they lived so close. They recently moved back to their hometown area after seven years away to be closer to their families.
They are also very active in their church Trinity Evangelical Lutheran, which just celebrated its 150th anniversary.
In 1999, Buttke became the executive secretary for the Wisconsin Valley Fair, Wausau. This was her hometown fair and one at which she showed livestock.
"It was exciting to learn the ins and outs of organizing a fair, because all I knew growing up was the showing side," stated Buttke.
Wisconsin Valley Fair was also the first time she had the opportunity to learn about IAFE. Attending the IAFE Annual Convention, Zone 4 meetings, and Wisconsin Association of Fairs (WAF) annual convention became a normal routine.
After serving on a state committee, she was elected to serve as one of eight directors for the WAF Board.
In 2005, her husband took a new job and they moved to the Madison area. Fortunately, the executive secretary position for the WAF became available and she was able to remain active in an industry that she had come to love.
Though she no longer serves a specific fair, Buttke is happy to call the 76 fairs in Wisconsin her fair family.
As executive secretary, she serves as the primary contact for the 76 member fairs and more than 200 associate members.
Each year, more than 1,000 members attend the WAF Convention, which offers workshops, entertainment showcases, a trade show, Fairest of the Fairs competition, and the opportunity to network with other fair members.
In 2008, she missed her first and only Zone 4 meeting since being active in IAFE due to thyroid cancer. "That was the first time I realized just how many friends I made in the fair industry," she stated.
In addition to serving as executive secretary for the WAF, Buttke currently serves as president of the Federation of State and Provincial Associations of Fairs.
She graduated from the Institute of Fair Management in 2011, serves on the County Fairs/Federation of Fairs committee, and is the liaison to the Young Professionals Initiative (YPI) committee.
This past September, she attended the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth conference in Zambia, Africa.
Buttke would like to thank special individuals in the fair industry: "I'd like to thank Bob Williams, Wisconsin Fairs Coordinator, for educating me on Wisconsin Fairs and the policies that were put in place and why. Bob and I travel the state each year for district meetings sharing stories, laughs, and tears. My husband laughs that Bob and I can travel together for a week and still call each other the next day to talk."
She continued, "I met Denny Baker, from the Minnesota State Fair at my first Zone 4 meeting. I was amazed that someone in the industry for so long would visit with me and ask my opinion, a 24-year-old just starting out in the fair. Thirteen years later, I'm still thankful that Denny took me under his wing and encouraged me to be as involved as I could in the industry. Whether he meant to do it or not, he became a great mentor for me."
Buttke concluded, "Lastly, I remember when I first met Marla Calico at the IAFE Convention, and she told me that I shouldn't be afraid to meet people. She encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone and sit at a table with people I didn't know. I thought she was crazy. To this day, I try to sit at a table with someone I haven't met, but it's getting harder to do as I'm becoming friends with so many in our fair industry. What a great fair family we have and I'm honored to be part of it."