The most WonderFAIR time of the year

Abigail Martin
Alice in Dairyland, Abigail Martin, far left, gathers with participants in the All for One show along with their mentors from the 4-H and FFA livestock project.

This year, the Wisconsin State Fair again brought 11 days full of hard-working youth exhibitors, unique vegetables on display, and plenty of cream puffs to go around. Each year at the beginning of August, the farm comes to the city, and brings a park located partly in Milwaukee and partly in West Allis to life. From pigs and sheep, to award-winning dairy products, to local fruits and vegetables, the diversity of Wisconsin agriculture truly shone bright this year.

Each of the 11 days, I spent time talking with youth exhibitors to learn more about their projects. 4-H and FFA members shared how they raise and care for their animals long before the fair week rolls around. Preparing an animal for show takes many hours of preparation that start long before the trip to state fair. Youth participants learn skills such as how to feed, water, and wash another living being. And although these skills are important, underlying character traits are being honed. Responsibility, patience, kindness, and numerous other life skills are being learned and practiced each day youth work with their animals.

Two shows in particular hold special memories for me from the fair. The All For One swine and goat shows offer students with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to learn about and show a pig or goat at the fair. Students are paired with youth exhibitors for mentors before the show. As the shows began, the rings were full and smiles were abundant. The swine and goat industries in Wisconsin have much to be proud of, as youth and adults shared their passion for pigs and goats with special members of our community!

Of course, no one can attend the Wisconsin State Fair without filling their bellies full of delicious fair food. As an experienced State Fair attendee myself, I had been looking forward to my daily trips to the Wisconsin Products Pavilion all summer long. This year definitely did not disappoint. I started with classics like a grilled cheese from the Real Wisconsin Cheese Grill and a loaded baked potato from the Wisconsin Potato Growers. New this year was the BBQ pulled goat meat sandwich! The sandwich was delicious, and could definitely be replicated at home! Prepare the goat meat as you would for pulled pork, add barbeque sauce, top off with coleslaw, and enjoy on a toasted bun. Finish your goat meal off with a glass of farm-fresh goat milk. After all, Wisconsin ranks first in the nation for goat milk production.

Though I ended the 11 days with a weary voice and blistered feet, I left with a great sense of pride and love for our great state. Together, people from all over Wisconsin came together to celebrate and showcase our state’s agriculture strength. Fairgoers had the opportunity to watch cow and goat milking demonstrations, sample locally grown or raised foods, and watch as the best of the best animals paraded around show rings. Each day, I watched as Wisconsin State Fair attendees truly immersed themselves in Wisconsin agriculture.

Abigail Martin

Abigail Martin is serving as Wisconsin's 72nd Alice in Dairyland.