Next year will be a better year

Jerry Apps
This Ferris Wheel stands idle at the Waushara County Fair last year. Nearly two dozen county fairs have announced the cancellation of their yearly event.

In the midst of the polio epidemic (1945-1955), with the help of County Agent. Henry Haferbecker, we organized a 4-H Club in my home community west of Wild Rose. About a dozen of us became members.

The year was 1946 and one of the strong recruitment strategies Mr. Haferbecker used was telling us that 4-H members exhibited their 4-H projects at the fair, and if we chose the dairy project—all of us were from dairy farms—we could stay overnight at the fair. What kid could say no to that opportunity?

We had heard that some fairs were cancelling because of polio, but that did not deter us from working hard with our 4-H calves starting as soon as spring arrived, and continuing on into summer. Any free time we used to teach our calves to lead—not an especially easy task. We took special care of them all summer. Thankfully, the Waushara County Fair did not cancel and we all exhibited our projects.

Today, because of the COVID-19 epidemic, which has swept the state, nation, and around the world, many of Wisconsin’s County Fairs and the Wisconsin State Fair are cancelled, along with 4-H member’s hopes of attending and exhibiting their 4-H projects.

It is very disappointing for 4-H members. Concerns for health must take first place. And as my dad always said when things looked bleak and I was disappointed about something, “Next year will be a better year.”

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Life has its stormy weather, but eventually the sun will shine again.

Jerry Apps

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work go to