Jackie Rosenbush of Washburn Co. is the 2022 WI Fairest of the Fairs

Michelle Stangler
First runner-up Lydia Luebke of Manitowoc County congratulates a surprised Jackie Rosenbush, right, of Washburn County after Rosenbush was named 2022 Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs on Wednesday evening, Jan. 12 at the annual Wisconsin Association of Fairs Convention in Wisconsin Dells. Looking on from left, fourth runner-up Jaynie Rule, of Iowa County, third runner-up Hannah Roehrig of Calumet County, and second runner-up, Courtney Moser of Vernon County.

For the first time in the 55-year history of the Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs competition, Washburn County's Fairest of the Fair will hold the coveted title.

Throughout the competition held this past week at the annual Wisconsin Association of Fairs Convention in Wisconsin Dell, winner Jackie Rosenbush, 20, said she hailed from "up north", referring to her hometown of Sarona in northwest Wisconsin.

"I'm really excited to learn about every one of the communities and all different parts of agriculture all over the state," said Rosenbush. 

This year the Washburn County native will share her passion for the fair industry as she travels across the state promoting the educational, agricultural, social, cultural, and commercial opportunities available at Wisconsin’s fairs. During her reign she will attend 75 district, county and local fairs in addition to serving as the official hostess of the Wisconsin State Fair Aug. 4-14, 2022.

When she threw her hat into the ring to compete for the title of the Washburn County Fairest of the Fair, Rosenbush said her goal was to bring back awareness to a community that was small but mighty. She understood the respect and integrity the position required and wanted to help a community that held many opportunities but not many people. 

At each and every event Rosenbush visited as her county's Fairest of the Fair, she advocated for the Washburn County Fair and county fairs all over Wisconsin. She will take that advocacy to the next level as she continues to share the rich history of the state's fairs as the 56th Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs.

"At the end of the day, my mission in life is to educate others about agriculture and this position gives me that opportunity," said Rosenbush who is pursuing a degree in Agriculture Education at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

Sarona native Jackie Rosenbush was selected from a field of 33 contestants to serve as the 2022 Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs.

Rosenbush has a unique set of skills and experiences from 4-H and FFA that aided her growth in agriculture, driving her to share it with fairgoers. Her involvement with FFA began in 2015, and included serving on the Wisconsin FFA State Officer team from 2020-21.

She says fairs across Wisconsin serve as a small example of the agricultural industry, a message she looks forward to sharing to all students.

"There are ways students can become involved in the community and they can portray their passion and the heart it takes to continue to be a positive exhibitor at the fair," Rosenbush says. 

Tonya Dvorak, Wisconsin Association of Fairs Fairest of the Fairs Committee Chair says the role held by Rosenbush and the women who have served in that role since 1966 is to visit the state's 75 fairs and have that connection, as well as helping bring communities together so they can continue to grow. 

Rosenbush was among 33 contestants competing for the title. Rounding out the top five include: Lydia Luebke of Manitowoc County, first runner-up, followed by second runner-up Courtney Moser of Vernon County, third runner-up Hannah Roehrig of Calumet County (winner of the Tim Heffernon Congeniality Award), and fourth runner-up Jaynie Rule, of Iowa County.

Rosenbush succeeds 2020/2021 Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs Cayley Vande Berg from the Fond du Lac County. 

2-year reign comes to an end

Thanks to the COVID 19 pandemic, outgoing Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs Cayley Vande Berg of Fond du Lac County had an historic 2-year run. Vande Berg, whose reign covered the 2020 and 2021 fair seasons says she is an even bigger fairest enthusiast after attending 54 fairs, 12 additional events, recording two event videos, logging over 10,000 miles and creating upwards of 140 social media posts in 2021.

Outgoing Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs Cayley Vande Berg speaks at the Governor's Blue Ribbon Dairy Products Auction at the 2021 Wisconsin State Fair - which she says were the best 11 days of the summer for the Fond du Lac County native.

Vande Berg recalls the final question posed to her as she competed for the title back in 2020: “What is the purpose of Wisconsin fairs?”. And two years later she is able to reflect on just how vital the fairs are to the citizens of Wisconsin.

“We learned Wisconsin’s Fairs are so much more than showcasing agriculture and driving the local economy…it’s also creating future leaders, life lessons and generations of memories” Vande Berg said looking back on the past fair season.

The Fairest of the Fairs is chosen by a panel of three judges representing the fair, marketing, and hospitality industries. This year’s judges were Jennifer Dunn, CVFM, Kim Berens, and Stacie Christel.