CLOSE
LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

For Mariah Richardson, the Waukesha County Fair means more than a few days of summer fun. It means carrying on a family passion, especially now that she's been crowned 2021 Fairest of the Fair.

The 21-year-old Dousman native and third-generation farmer, who was awarded the title on June 23, said she could not be more excited by the honor. 

Since she was a little girl, and for generations before her, Richardson and her family have participated in the county fair.

Her grandfather, Robert Wiese, first started showing livestock in 1949. His daughter and Richardson's mother, Wanda Richardson, is a fair board member who oversees fair livestock, and most most of her cousins have showed or competed in their fair for several years. 

Mariah is known in her family for competing in just about everything the fair has to offer, including crochet, sewing, baking and livestock shows with pigs, sheep and cows. 

Wiese recalled a year where Richardson entered 41 different fair exhibits. When the winners had been announced, getting Richardson's prizes home proved to be tricky. 

"They made two trips ... she'd won everything," Wiese said. 

In 2015, Richardson was named the "Showman of Showmen," a title earned by being the best at showing every kind of animal in the categories offered by the fair. 

While the 2020 fair has been canceled due to COVID-19, Richardson will be the face of the 2021 fair, and will spend the next year promoting the fair by doing various commercials, community outreach and being active on social media. 

"You see these beautiful Fairest (winners), so amazing with their speaking skills, and they're so composed, and as a little girl like you always look up to them, and you think it's like, the coolest thing in the world," Richardson said. 

Richardson is a senior in the nursing program at Valparaiso University in Indiana, a major she was inspired to pursue by her cousin, Robyn Schanau, who is a nurse. Schanau was crowned Fairest of the Fair in 2014, and the two cousins grew up more like sisters. 

"I'm really excited for her to be able to share her personality with other people from Waukesha County. She's so fun and loving and always putting others first," Schanau said. 

In 2019, many of Richardson's family members encouraged her to compete for the crown. Richardson declined, instead deciding to support her 10-year-old brother Kayden in his first livestock show.

"Once he got into that show ring, you could see his nerves kind of slipping away, and his confidence is slowly building up, and he ended up winning his class... And as a big sister, you just feel so awesome for him," Richardson said. 

Richardson called her brother's first show her favorite fair memory.

"She's really special to all my family members... She'll probably be the best (Fairest of the Fair)," Kayden said. 

The 2021 Waukesha County Fair is scheduled for July 21-25. 

Samantha Hendrickson can be reached at 414-224-2865 or shendrickson@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter at @samanthajhendr.

Our subscribers make this reporting possible. Please consider supporting local journalism by subscribing to the Journal Sentinel at jsonline.com/deal.

Autoplay
Show Thumbnails
Show Captions
LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: https://www.jsonline.com/story/communities/waukesha/2020/06/26/waukesha-county-fair-names-dousman-woman-mariah-richardson-as-2021-fairest-fair/3259462001/