It is very hard to believe that the journey of the 2015 fair season has come to a close and we are looking forward to the 2016 year. As I reflect on this past year, I can’t help but smile as I think of all the great times that were had. Traveling over 17,000 miles to 59 County, District and State Fairs found me participating in events I would never have done before. From cricket spitting to having snakes around my neck, from riding rides with Governor Walker to a bacon eating contest, there was never a dull moment this summer.
One of the takeaways from this summer is that fairs are a business of people. To loosely quote President Lincoln, it is an event of the people, for the people and by the people. People spend time, a lot to time, preparing, funding, planning, and executing a fair. They spend all of this time to put on a fair that is for the people. Their vision is for people to be educated about agriculture, and community history, all while having an economic impact on our communities. Yet, the most important part is that it is a fair by the people. Exhibitors big and small, spend their year preparing projects, raising and leading animals, and getting excited to show off what they had learned. Without our exhibitors, we would be missing a huge part of the reason the fair is such an amazing celebration.
Throughout the celebration I was able to talk to a lot of people. Speaking with sponsors, exhibitors, fairests, fair boards, politicians, veterans, past exhibitors, future exhibitors and even just fair supporters, has opened my eyes to the how much community effort goes into this community event. I am very lucky that I was able to share my passion for Agriculture, a passion that was not cultivated on a farm, but created through my experience at the Wisconsin State Fair. I was happy to live out the goal of my personal introduction on this stage last year, by giving back to the fair industry that has given me so much.
Since 2003, when I started attending the Wisconsin State Fair, I always knew that the four days I spent down in West Allis, went fast. Spending 11 days in West Allis felt even faster, as I covered every inch of Fair Park at the 164th Wisconsin State Fair. I got the honor of introducing some extremely talented people, I gave out awards and ribbons to people who worked hard to get to this level. I helped people find their way around, and more importantly I was able to show people why the Fair is so important to me.
I cannot say enough about the experiences I have had this year. I have learned so much about the fair industry, but more importantly, I learned about myself. Initiating conversations with others has never been easy for me. I was able to come out of my shell this year, and not only initiate those conversation, but hopefully inspire a few people along the way to stay involved with the fair industry and the Fairest of the Fair program. I am so excited for the convention in January, because a new class of individuals who are passionate about our industry will be preparing to represent Wisconsin as the 50th Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs. I am looking forward to handing this experience to another person who will get the opportunity to learn and grow as an individual.
This experience has helped me gain my dream job. I am currently teaching Middle and High School Choir and Music for the Mishicot School District. I would like to thank them for being so supportive of this program. Finally, I would like to thank all of you for being supporters of me this year. The fair community is one I will always be a part of, and I am happy to have served you this year.
Deanna Schlies, 2015 Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs