Apps hopes to capture human essence of fairs in new book
Jerry Apps is no stranger to county fairs. In fact, as the University of Wisconsin Extension agent in Green Lake and Brown counties, he played a major role in orchestrating the days long events.
While at the helm, Apps was also appreciative of those who worked hard behind the scenes to make the annual events a reality: judges, county fair officials, carnival workers, community organizations, 4-H and FFA leaders and members and parents.
Apps latest literary endeavor is to pen a book on the history of Wisconsin state, county and district fairs (published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press), seasoned with human experiences tied to those fairs. He is asking for stories and photos from former 4-H, FFA and open class exhibitors, as well as judges, fair secretaries and anyone else connected to a Wisconsin fair.
"I'm looking for stories that talk about what it was like to show a calf, win first prize or win a pink ribbon," he said, "or what it was like to stay overnight at the fair. I was a 4-H member for 10 years and we stayed overnight in an old tent at the Waushara County Fair."
Apps says his childhood memories associated with the county fair were fantastic and would like to connect with others who also treasure those times.
"I want the story from a kid who is now maybe an adult thinking back on what it was like to show a calf at the 1960 fair," said Apps. "The stories are the start, but I want to go deeper and ask what they learned from those experiences that still impact their lives today."
Apps would also like stories and photos from carnival companies and their workers, fair maintenance people, professional grandstand performers plus stories about horse-pulling contests, horse races or tractor pulling contests.
"I would dearly love to get some carnival stories. What was it like to go from fair to fair all summer long, taking down the Ferris wheel and then putting it back up again, and then driving all night to some other place to start all over again?" he said.
The retired University of Wisconsin professor is also hoping people will contribute photos along with their stories.
"Digital photos would work best but I'll take regular photos as well," Apps said. As for the length of the personal stories? "Short or long, it doesn't matter. I'm a storyteller and it's the stories mixed in with the facts that people will enjoy reading."
Those interested in submitted stories or photos should send them to Apps at firstname.lastname@example.org.