Central Wisconsin State Fair's (very) new manager eyes 'bigger and better' 2018

Mitchell A. Skurzewski
USA Today Network-Wisconsin

MARSHFIELD - It was a wild week for the new general manager of the Central Wisconsin State Fair. 

"A bit slow," Dale Christiansen said of how things were going Tuesday after the six-day fair in Marshfield.

Christiansen said this year's fair, his first as GM, was a "learning experience" for him as he observed the event in what he called an evaluation year. 

Christiansen was thrust into the job a bit late in the fair season. He was hired in June after Adam Fischer resigned as director of the fair, a major annual festival that wrapped up Monday. Christiansen has experience with such an event; he runs the Lincoln County Fair as well.

Despite the quick and hectic lead-up to the fair, he said all signs point to a solid turnout. 

"I think it was a great fair; it went so much smoother than anticipated," Christiansen said. "Preliminary (attendance) numbers are looking good or better than what we expected.

"It’s really been remarkable the number of people that stepped up to help. We kind of came in behind the 8-ball a bit, but without the volunteers, former board members and the staff it wouldn’t have been as successful as it was. They really helped a lot."

Christiansen said the feedback from the entertainment acts was very positive, as Sammy Kershaw, Aaron Tippin and Collin Raye (Wednesday), Blackhawk (Thursday) and Eddie Money (Friday) "all put on great shows."

For the most part, the weather cooperated, but the truck and tractor pulls on Saturday were hampered because of the rain and conditions of the track. 

"It’s a good thing, I guess, when (just) one event in a six-day fair is hurt by the weather," Christiansen said. 

He's excited by the positive feedback this year because of the time crunch he was under, but he did say with time to evaluate he expects changes next year. 

"I think as we look at it, there were too many duplicate vendor stands serving the same things," he said. "I think making changes to the vendors will be our top priority.

"Overall the positive feedback from the community is good to hear and encourages us to move forward with a bigger and better fair next year."