COLUMNISTS

Celebrating the return of county fairs

Sen. Howard Marklein
County fairs are more than just lemonade stands, cheese curds, and midways. They are community traditions that showcase the pride of our Wisconsin agricultural production and an opportunity to celebrate our local communities.

County fairs are more than just lemonade stands, cheese curds, and midways. They are community traditions that showcase the pride of our Wisconsin agricultural production and an opportunity to celebrate our local communities. I am so grateful to see that these staple summer events of rural Wisconsin are back in full swing for our families to enjoy.

There is something special about fair season. It stands out to me as a joyous tribute to Wisconsin’s ag production and all rural Wisconsin does to represent our title as American’s Dairyland. I know so many of us have looked forward to being together in this way and I’m proud to see many residents already attending County fairs throughout the 17th Senate district.

County fairs also give us the unique opportunity to share the joy of farming with our younger generations and help build the future of Wisconsin’s ag industry. It’s amazing to see a teenager take care of their first animal and participate in their first livestock auction. While these experiences of raising an animal provide skills to our future farmers, it also teaches life lessons that will go much farther than the farm. Many of our young adults spend years raising livestock and they rely on fair auctions to sell an animal to financially provide for their future. The importance of helping our younger generations purchase their first farm, attend college, buy a vehicle, or learn a trade cannot be overstated. This is vital for their personal future and the future of Wisconsin’s ag economy.

Last week, I attended the Lafayette County and Sauk County Fairs. It was a great time seeing neighbors in-person while being outside during our beautiful summer months in the Driftless Region! At the Sauk County Fair, I served cheese curds and burgers at the Sauk County Farm Bureau food booth. I am encouraged to see so many food booths at the fair used to raise money for local service clubs. The simple purchase of a Wisconsin brat with french fries becomes a great investment in our community!

I want to thank all the wonderful County fair staff and volunteers who give their personal time to make sure these events happen flawlessly each year. To the event set-up staff, the contest judges, the food workers, the EMS support team, and the many others – thank you for believing in what the County fair is all about and understanding the value it brings to our region. Our community would not have these events without your service.

When many fairs were canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions, rural communities lost out on the opportunity to celebrate our agricultural achievements together in 2020. Because of this, I am even more grateful to have them back in full swing this summer. I love to see our region showcase our agricultural accomplishments and share with others how important this industry is for our state. So if you haven’t planned your family outing to a fair yet, I encourage you to go and experience the beauty of Wisconsin agriculture. And don’t forget to try the cheese curds.

Howard Marklein