Twice the Fair Fun During My Two-Year Run
By: Cayley Vande Berg, 2021 & 2022 Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs
As we head into the 2022 Wisconsin Association of Fairs Convention, this means we are nearing the selection of the 2022 Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs! Thirty-three contestants from across our great state will represent their respective fairs and vie for the coveted state title. In the final month of my two-year reign as your Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs, I reflect on what a blessing this opportunity has been. The professionalism, poise, media experience, fair memories, and relationships cultivated will last a lifetime.
The 2020 fair season looked drastically different as only 14 Wisconsin fairs took place in modified or virtual formats. However, I was able to create videos for virtual events, attend the Cream Puff Drive-Thru around Wisconsin, and be a part of the Wisconsin State Fair Necessities. These innovative events helped engage fairs and fairgoers in the safest way possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. My journey during the 2021 fair season consisted of 10,000 miles behind the wheel, many steps recorded on my Fitbit, countless stops at Kwik Trip to fuel the car and my stomach, impromptu media interviews, thousands of photos capturing priceless memories, and experiencing 54 Wisconsin fairs amongst other events! Additionally, I had the opportunity to serve as the official hostess of the Wisconsin State Fair presented by USCellular. Without a doubt, those truly were the best 11 days of summer experiencing the camaraderie and passion the Wisconsin State Fair brings.
During my summer travels, many people have asked me about the Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs position. I shared that I have the best job! This role includes representing Wisconsin’s 75 county, district, and state fairs while promoting Wisconsin agriculture and the fair industry. One can truly make this position their own and I made it my own by discovering the purpose of our Wisconsin fairs. Initially, I thought Wisconsin fairs are for showcasing agriculture, bringing communities together, and driving the local economy. Wisconsin fairs are all this, but so much more, too! During my reign, I have found that Wisconsin fairs are also for celebrating history and heritage, learning about other’s cultures, engaging in commercial opportunities, education through youth organizations, providing entertainment through midway rides and music, and of course, enjoyment of food that farmers, processors, transporters, and chefs work hard to raise, package, deliver and craft into something special for us. Even after naming all these facets that make up Wisconsin’s 75 fairs, there is still more.
The fair takes on a different meaning for each and every exhibitor, fair board member, staff, volunteer, vendor, entertainer, and fairgoer. I am thankful that I could experience twice the fair fun through a new lens as the Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs. Soon, the 2022 Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs will get to experience the same magic. This position is truly an incredible once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I am eager to see which lady will earn the new crown and sash!
You can learn more about my Fairest journey on the Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs Facebook or Instagram page and stay tuned for the selection of the 2022 Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs on January 12, 2021.