Memories to last a lifetime: The Wisconsin State Fair
Growing up, my summers were always filled with fairs and cow shows. This year is different. Many exhibitors are not able to showcase their projects and all the hard work they have put into them. I would like to reflect on experiences I had as an exhibitor, specifically at the Wisconsin State Fair.
On January 1, 2010 I knew it was going to be a special year and one reason was because I was FINALLY old enough (12 by the first of the year) to attend the Wisconsin State Fair with Chippewa County as a Junior Exhibitor. My older sister, Katrina, had been attending for a few years before me and always came back with the most exciting stories. When it came time to load the trailers to head down to Milwaukee, I knew I was in for an experience I would never forget.
My first year at the Wisconsin State Fair… I don’t remember how my animals placed in the class, or even how I did in showmanship. I DO remember stuffing my face with cream puffs, having water fights in the cattle wash rack with my fellow Chippewa County friends, meeting exhibitors from counties around Wisconsin, and telling fairgoers about my all black calf, Velvet, who was so soft that everyone wanted to pet her. For me, the Wisconsin State Fair has always been a place to make memories and new friends, while sharing my knowledge with those who may have never been on a farm before.
As I got older I started taking more leadership in my county group, from leading the early morning ‘cow washing team’ to helping younger members get their animals ready for the show. The State Fair not only allows youth exhibitors to learn, but also to teach. I was able to meet members from other counties with different agricultural backgrounds than mine. It was through meeting these individuals that I began to understand just how diverse Wisconsin agriculture, and the Wisconsin State Fair, really is. Agriculture in Wisconsin is diverse and plays a major role in our state’s economy, providing over 435,000 jobs.
For over 150 years, the Wisconsin State Fair has been a place for Wisconsinites to engage with our state’s culture, from food to farming. It was been a place for laughter, music, and memories to be made and I know that it will continue to do so in the future. Even though this summer may not have turned out the way many fairgoers and exhibitors had hoped, it is still important to never stop learning and look forward to new opportunities. I hope that next year, exhibitors come back to fairs with a fiery passion and desire to make memories and friendships to last a lifetime.
I would love to showcase youth exhibitors and their project animals who were planning to attend the Wisconsin State Fair on my Facebook Page. If you or your child would like share a project animal from this summer please send pictures and a short description (name, age, animal name, etc.) to DATCPalice@wisconsin.gov.
Julia Nunes is Wisconsin's 73rd Alice in Dairyland