The Wisconsin Association of Fairs convention concluded in Wisconsin Dells on Wednesday, Jan. 13, with the awards banquet that also included the crowing of the new Fairest of the Fair, Gloria Kesler.
The Wisconsin Association of Fairs annually acknowledges those individuals who have gone above and beyond the traditional role of volunteering and sharing talents for the betterment of fairs throughout the State of Wisconsin. These individuals are passionate not only for their local fairs but also for all the 76 County, District, and State Fairs throughout the state of Wisconsin.
Three volunteers, Sally Schoenike, Dodge County, and Dick and Gayle Sullwold, St. Croix County, were recognized for their volunteer work at the convention for the last 15 years.
"When Jim Schoenike was president in 2000, he observed that the Secretary was too overwhelmed and needed some help at the convention, said State Fair Association President Dale Christianson. "So when he was done serving as president, he volunteered himself, his wife, Sally, and their good friends, Dick and Gayle Sullwold, to staff the registration desk.
Even after Jim passed away in 2012, Sally, Dick and Gale continue to volunteer. They are a staple at the convention. Happy to help get you registered, trade out banquet tickets, sell you raffle tickets or give directions to the next workshop, one of them can always be found at the registration desk. They know how to welcome our attendees whether a first timer or a life- long attendee."
The Friend of the Fair Award was presented to Rick Frenette, executive director of the Wisconsin State Fair.
Frenette has been in the fair industry his entire life. His father ran their hometown Wisconsin fair, and he was behind the counter of a food stand as soon as he was old enough to work.
In the award presentation, Christiansen said, "That was the beginning of a lifelong passion and commitment to the fair industry, and more importantly, a commitment to his fair friends, co-workers and staff members that have worked with him, and for him through the years."
He went on to say his support and participation in Wisconsin fairs and fairs across the country is impressive, including earning his Certified Fair Executive designation in 1988 and serving as the 2008 Board Chairman of the International Association of Fairs & Expositions.
"His travels have taken him to work at three different state fairs, but his allegiance to the badger state and our fairs was always at the forefront wherever he traveled," Christiansen said. "He has always been willing to share his knowledge and expertise with others, no matter the size of the fair. He has served as a mentor to many in this room tonight. When he had the opportunity to come 'home' to take over the reins of our State Fair, he accepted the challenge, and we are happy and fortunate that he did."
Volunteers from fairs around the state were also inducted into the Hall of Fame, recognizing their individual accomplishments over the years.
Hall Of Fame awards
The Hall of Fame Award is presented to Lydia Krivanek of the Florence County Fair. For over 30 years Lydia has been on the fair board, food committee, exhibit management committee and building & grounds committee. She has also served on the advertising committee for 24 years and was fair board treasurer for more than 15 years. Lydia has done just about everything for the fair from planning and scheduling the events and activities, getting judges, working on fundraising, to cleaning and setting up the barn. For Lydia, there really is no "After the fair." There is either before the fair or during the fair; many of the responsibilities that Lydia takes care of "after the fair" are already "before the fair" and one fair seems to roll into the next without a pause between the two. She even arranges for building use (boat storage) for the winter months. Lydia was instrumental getting the new pavilion with stage & kitchen built this past year.
The Hall of Fame Award is presented to John Steel from St. Croix County Fair. John began his fair service as a 4-H member, next a 4-H parent and leader, evolving into project committee member and then elected to the fair board. At 76, John still serves as a director on the fair board. He also serves as co-superintendent for indoor & outdoor commercial exhibits and is an active member of the long range planning, building, grounds, and financial committees. Standing water had been an issue around some of the buildings, so over the past couple years, John installed pipes and culverts to divert water and graded the surrounding ground to facilitate better runoff. He has worked with many grounds improvements: widening the tractor pulling track, construction of two new horse arenas, planting trees to provide shade, building of a second dairy barn and replacing the floor in a schoolhouse building. John also served on the breeding stock and meat animal committee and helped many 4-H members learn about swine and horse showing. Due to health issues, John was limited in his help at the fair this year but was just a phone call away or driving his Gator to welcome and inform fair visitors.
The Hall of Fame Award is presented to Simon Wells of the Monroe County Fair. Simon has been a lifetime supporter of the Fair beginning as a 4-H exhibitor and FFA member, then 4-H leader, beef superintendent, Monroe County Ag Society director and now their secretary. Simon implemented a gate fund drive to replace livestock gates and was successful in two years, also including two wagons for off-season gate storage. He also worked to raise money to update the lighting & electrical outlets in the barns and implemented new signage for livestock grand and reserve champions. Simon has worked to improve the beef show. Simon can always be found on the fairgrounds throughout the entire fair. Simon, his wife, Rosie, their children and grandchildren commit their summers to the fair.
The Hall of Fame Award is presented to Marsha Jurgensmier from Fond du Lac County Fair. Marsha has been a member of the board of directors for the Fond du Lac County Fair for more than 25 years, holding positions as director and vice president during her board service. She helps plan entertainment during the Fair and oversees the campground area and parking volunteers, for the four lots on their grounds. Marsha has also served on the horse board as liaison with the fair board. For the past two years the fair board had struggled with budget constraints. Marsha personally sponsored the horse pull at the grandstand. The pulls have been a huge hit. Marsha's smiling face, cheerful disposition and willingness to do whatever is necessary are an asset to Fond du Lac County Fair.
Outstanding fair person
The Outstanding Fair Person Award is presented to Brad Becker of the Lincoln County Fair. Brad has served on the fair board since 2004. He was the past vice president and now is on the board of directors. Brad works with parking and security, securing bids to get the best qualified groups at a reasonable price, thus saving the fair money. He started the mud volleyball tournament and is totally responsible for all that is needed for this three-day tournament. Knowing the financial situation of the Fair, Brad purchased balls and nets for the tournament; after the tournament he gets the sand bags and stores them at his home. It was Brad's idea that the fair board have its own soda stand. He introduced a "Bag Tournament" and has ideas for shows for their new grandstand. To help maintain a good working relationship with the county board, Brad attends almost every meeting and keeps Fair Board members informed. He has been updating the Fair Facebook page for four years.
The Outstanding Fair Person award is presented to Janis Larson from Polk County Fair. Janis has served on the fair board for eight years, has been a 4-H leader for 22 years, helps with the poultry show and worked as an EMT coordinator for eight years prior to being on the fair board. as fair camping superintendent, she sets up all the camping sites and collects the fees. As fair safety coordinator, Janis organizes the EMT staff for the fair and makes sure all equipment is clean and fueled. Janis helps with winter storage and is at most of the non-fair events at the fairgrounds. She volunteers as an EMT at horse camp. Janis does extra clean-up jobs at and after the fair.
The Outstanding Fair Person Award is presented to Lori Ripp of the Lodi Agricultural Fair. Lori has volunteered at the Fair for over 20 years and has served on the Fair Board for the last 10 years in different capacities, from superintendent, committee member and now fair secretary. Her main focus is the Jr. Exhibit Hall. Lori is also co-chairman of the Lodi Agricultural Fairest of the Fair Program, co-chair of the fund raising committee, which brought in $30,000 plus this year, and has served as co-chair of the 150th fair celebration planning committee. She has been a great asset to the board of directors from the beginning; she gets all the judges for the fair and organizes the volunteers. Lori has brought many new activities to the fair. Currently, her big accomplishment is writing a history book for the fair. Her love of fairs is evident in all she does.
The Outstanding Fair Person Award is presented to Jody Beyer from Manitowoc County Fair. Jody has been a Fair Board member and the parking and security chairperson for 10 years. She has been on the expo-ice center board, as well as a member of the operations and finance subcommittee. Jody reviews and establishes the security and horse parker schedule and responsibilities. She has also helped park campers that arrive prior to fair week. Jody remains on the grounds the entire week of fair and answers security calls, working closely with local authorities to increase security, also using cameras. Jody is an EMT specialist and is called when there are injuries or illness. She is always looking for new ways to better the fair.
The VIP Award is presented to Barb Beastrom of the Athens Fair. Barb has served the Athens Fair for 49 years as clerk and superintendent of flowers & plants, natural sciences, cultural arts, woodworking and the foods and vegetable departments. Barb assists with entries, assuring they are paid and manages the group that records entries and prepares judge's sheets and exhibitor tags. She oversees distribution of exhibitor tags and placement of exhibits in the exhibit hall. She is committed to making sure that the exhibit hall looks its best and exhibits are safe, scheduling workers to be in the exhibit hall during fair hours. Barb ensures judge's affidavits are signed and their papers have been completed, enters exhibitor winnings from judge's sheets to the exhibitor journal and that cash prize amounts are correct. Barb assists the fair secretary with purchasing materials for the fair. Before and during the fair she answers phone calls and questions, directing questions to the responsible party. Her attention to detail helps the fair run smoothly.
The VIP award goes to Lorna Andersonfrom Trempealeau County Fair. Lorna has been active in the TrempealeauCounty Fair for 56 years, first as an exhibitor, then leader in the clothing project and finally as general leader of Westway 4-H Club. With the exception of a few years when all three of her children were exhibiting at the fair, Lorna has exhibited in foods, clothing, home furnishings, flowers and gardening. With her challenge this year to other women to exhibit at least five items, exhibits increased. Lorna has been the clothing fair superintendent from 1971 to the present time, working as clothing project leader, conducts the county clothing review for the fair and served as interim 4-H agent three times when the county was without an agent. She has designed and constructed new display areas and cases. Her painting skills have been put to use both on the interior and exterior of several buildings, as well as benches scattered around the fairgrounds. Both Lorna and her husband have been long-term helpers, getting the grounds ready for the fair and cleaning up after the fair. Lorna has dedicated so much of her time to the fair that she is thought of as a board member or employee. She is truly a supporter of the fair, who does it consistently and with a positive, infectious attitude.
The VIP award goes to Dennis Noble of the Grant County Fair. Dennis has been the junior dairy superintendent for 36 years and was a 4-H leader for 28 years. He has also served on the Junior Holstein Board and Grant County Breeder Association Board. Dennis and his family sponsor a high point award for junior horses and a Sportsmanship Award for the junior dairy department. Dennis helped improve the dairy program by creating a Supreme Showmanship Award for dairy exhibitors, implementing a Parade of Champions, and was instrumental in creating a Master Showmanship Contest. He is not only a fair supporter but also supports the fairground facility and has donated family memorials for fair projects. Dennis has always had the drive to keep the fair and 4-H alive. He comes up with many ideas to improve the programs and the fairgrounds.