Wisconsin State Fair highlights best animal products, from goat cheese to alpaca wool hats
For Wisconsin farmers, the State Fair is time to bring the finest and the weirdest of their sellable goods to fascinated attendees.
From flavored milks to alpaca-wool hats, Wisconsin residents have anything and everything animal-related within reach. The only thing that stayed consistent between booths was the enthusiasm and effort of the farmers and sellers.
Here’s a look at a few of the highlights.
Goat-based products, no kidding
The Wisconsin Products Pavilion is best known for the dairy products sold within — from prize-winning cheeses to flavored milks (maple syrup and cherry). But past the entrance, a small line formed to buy an alternate option — goat milk.
The Wisconsin Goat Products booth is a collaboration between goat farmers and product sellers across Wisconsin. Kim Dooley, from Orfordville, worked the booth on Wednesday, Aug. 10, selling everything from goat cheese boxed macaroni to goat milk caramels.
“It’s not lactose free,” Dooley said. “But the majority of people that are lactose intolerant can handle goat cheese.”
Dooley has been making goat milk lotions and soaps for about 20 years, which she said works well for people with sensitive skin.
“They're so good for eczema and psoriasis,” Dooley said. “I have a ton of kids that use tea tree soap for acne. There's just a million different things that you can do with these.”
Spinning an (alpaca) yarn
Curious children congregated nearby to pet two alpacas in the alpaca products booth. Amanda Smith sat to the side at a spinning wheel, feeding alpaca wool into the machine and turning it to yarn.
“[Alpaca wool] is five times warmer than sheep's wool. It is way softer,” Smith said. “It doesn't have the lanolin in it like the sheep's wool with the grease, so you don't have to do the heavy washing process to get it out.”
Smith was at the State Fair with Raspbaerry Hill Aplacas, a farm with 16 alpacas near Plymouth that sells woolen items and works with local 4-H groups. Smith said she previously owned alpacas as well.
“It's like owning a really big dog,” Smith said. “You can train them, work with them, do whatever you'd like with them. We've also had obstacle courses, and you can take them into nursing homes.”
Something for everyone, even your pup
Attendees wandering through the Market Mile can lose themselves in the never-ending aisles filled color trinkets and flashy jewelry. Midway through the stands, Delone Austin worked inside the Annie’s Pooch Pops booth, selling fancy dog treats shaped like desserts and meal items.
“I’m actually surprised, not by how much people love their dogs, but (how much they) buy their dogs gifts,” Austin said with a laugh. It's his first year working the dog treat booth, and says he's seen a variety of customers, from little kids to adults.
The treats are whole grain, and range from a pizza-themed snack to a chicken jerky slider.
“Our most popular treats are probably our peanut butter cannoli's,” said the Milwaukee resident will continue working at the Pennsylvania-based booth through the next state fair in Minnesota.
Lydia Morrell can be reached at 320-444-2339 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @lydia_morrell.