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July 6, 2020

6/9/2020 9:07:00 AM
Wisconsin State Fair not taking place in 2020

By Kasi Greenwood
For the first time in 75 years, the Wisconsin State Fair will not be occurring in 2020, another event cancelled in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement released last Thursday the Wisconsin State Fair board voted unanimously on Tuesday, May 26, to authorize Chairman John Yingling to make the final call on whether events scheduled at State Fair Park, including the 2020 Wisconsin State Fair, were to be canceled.
Last Thursday, Yingling announced that "for the safety of fairgoers, staff, vendors, entertainers, exhibitors, sponsors, suppliers and the broader community, the 2020 Wisconsin State Fair has been canceled."
The statement explains "the board and staff have been closely monitoring COVID-19 data from local, state and federal health officials during this time. While some restrictions have recently been lifted and businesses are beginning to re-open, most are requiring strict safety measures, including social distancing, the wearing of masks and temperature checks. The evidence that this disease spreads quickly and easily when people are in densely populated areas has led several agencies to continue their recommendation to avoid mass gatherings.
"Considering the Wisconsin State Fair is the largest event in the State of Wisconsin, drawing more than one million people over the course of 11 days, this weighed heavily into the decision to cancel the 2020 Wisconsin State Fair. The safety of all fairgoers and staff, as well as the above-mentioned partners who are so important to putting on a successful fair, has always been the number one top priority."
While the cancellation affects fairgoers from all across the state, it greatly affects Iowa County's exhibitors, who have in year's past been quite successful in final drive competitions.
UW-Extension Iowa County 4-H Educator Sarah Weier stated that around 36 non-animal 4-H exhibits were selected to compete for Merit Ribbons at the State Fair. Youth carefully store their exhibits to be in perfect condition, and this year may have been the only opportunity to exhibit art, clothing, ceramics, woodworking, electricity, leathercraft and more in their 4-H career.
"While I understand why the Wisconsin State Fair was cancelled, my heart breaks for those youth who exhibit livestock and non-animal exhibits who will not be given the opportunity to reflect and learn from their hard work," Weier said. "The education gained, leadership opportunities and friendships formed at state fair last a lifetime."
Dodgeville's Kylie Kreul states that the Wisconsin State Fair is a place filled with activities, rides, concerts, contests, and most importantly, exhibits. These exhibits are projects the 4-H youth have spent many hours working on, and a lot of effort go into items such as painting, drawing, jewelry making, woodworking, wood-burning, sewing, and many others.
Kreul has been an Iowa County Fair exhibitor for the last 10, and this year will be her 11th. She had only made it to State Fair once, in fifth grade, with a bird house that she had made.
"For me, making it to state makes me feel accomplished of all the hard work I put into creating the project," Kreul said. "It also makes an amazing memory to see the project sitting there for many others across the state and other states to see."
At the 2019 Iowa County fair, Kreul received a State Fair Alternate on a project of hers: meaning that Kreul would have the potential of attending Milwaukee with her State Fair project. The project she made this past year was originally for an art competition in her school, Visual Arts Classic (VAC). It took her three months to make a charm for a necklace out of paper thin metal, which was all hand cut, filed down, and more. The charm she made was a treble clef with an eighth note, followed by a quarter note.
"Now when I found out the Wisconsin State Fair was canceled, I was quite upset," Kreul said. "Not only did I previously have a slight chance to have my piece go to state, but also my family has been going to the state fair together for the last two years to look at exhibits, ride rides and many other things. I was disappointed I was going to miss the tradition of going to the state fair this year. I also feel bad for everyone else who had projects for sure going to state."
For Dodgeville's Paige Miess, State Fair is simply the best week of her life. The opportunity to go to Milwaukee and share her knowledge and experiences with the public is the best opportunity given.
"The people I meet at the state fair have stuck with me forever," Miess said. "Not only have I made friends but I've come to understand other people's perspectives and why they view our lives as farmers the way they do."
Miess has enjoyed spending a week at the state fair each year, informing the public about the way her animals are raised and the lessons learned growing up on the farm.
"When a young child asks to pet my calf, it melts my heart," Miess said. "There isn't a better moment to sit back and thank God you were raised on a farm than the week we spend at State Fair. The adrenaline you get walking into the show ring is like standing on the end of a plane preparing to skydive. We live for the intimidation of the show ring."
"The reality of State Fair's cancellation has been hard to fathom."
"The first time I found out the state fair was cancelled was on a group chat with two of my best friends through showing," Miess said. "All three of us immediately started crying. It didn't feel real, in our heads we were still going to state fair. The letdown of knowing we worked as hard as we did and our animals will never get to show off the work they accomplished, it really hurts."
Miess adds, "The show isn't only for us showmen, but we go there to allow our show animals to show themselves off." Not only am I frustrated for myself and the opportunity I'm missing out on, but so many of my friends put just as much, if not more work into this year's state fair."
Miess admits that she is still in denial about the State Fair not taking place this year.
"I want to keep telling myself I'll be able to wake up at three in the morning to wash cattle," Miess said. "The energy we put into the state fair is extreme. By the end of the week we're all drained but we do it because we love it. Every single stock show kid will tell you, right now we would do anything to be at the fairgrounds with our animals."
There's an empty feeling, for Miess, thinking that people won't have the opportunity this year to be educated.
"Every year I continue to bring home stories of the memories but my favorite stories to tell are the ones that I can say 'I think I got them to understand what we do,' Miess said. "No story compares to being able to say you took the opportunity to tell your story so people understand your lifestyle. Honestly my heart hurts knowing the friends I only see at state fair will have to wait another year to be to create the memories. The memories we create at State Fair are talked about all year. As soon as the week ends we're already planning for the next."
"We've had the biggest youth show nationwide pulled away from us," Miess adds. "We take pride in being able to say we show at the Wisconsin State Fair. The best week of our lives has been stolen from us."
This year's 11-day Wisconsin State Fair was originally scheduled for August 6 - 16. The 2021 Wisconsin State Fair is scheduled to take place August 5 - 15.

Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Article comment by: Joe Lubasz

I want to express my appreciation to the Dodgeville community for its level of respect for this Covid-19 virus. I went to the Walmart yesterday afternoon and about half of the people coming in and out of Walmart were wearing face masks. I understand that there is a fair amount of controversy around mask wearing, but the fact is it is a simple and effective way to reduce the transmission of this virus. I wear a mask not because I'm afraid of getting infected, but out of respect for the people I come in contact with. I can't ever guarantee that I'm Covid-free, so I wear a mask out of respect for you. Thank you, Dodgeville!

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