GL Fair aims to provide fun for all

Josephine and her mother, Katie Broderick of Berlin, enjoy a spin on the tilt-a-whirl as the sun begins to set on the fair. Reagan Zimmerman photo

by Ariana Hones

The agricultural history of the United States, just as rich as the very soil it uses to thrive, celebrates itself in the heat of summer each year.

Green Lake, though named after watery depths, works in ecological tandem with its agricultural neighbors: the farmers and all who consume their food.

This year, the Green Lake County Fair, which runs Thursday, Aug. 2 to Sunday, Aug. 5, offers a celebration of this relationship between water and earth with its theme of “A Whole Lotta Happy.”

As a county supported fair, the organizational team behind each year’s success works to bring an engaging weekend for the entire family.

“The Green Lake County Fair is the ambassador to agricultural education,” fair coordinator Kim Zills said. “We like to focus on several educational programs each year as they are well attended by all ages. We typically offer a science program and animal/reptile program for youth, along with educational programs for adults.”

Although attending the county fair is a great way to enjoy a weekend, Zills also sees these events as a chance to continue a vital legacy.

“County fairs are more important than ever,” she said. “Fairs and livestock exhibitions are the foundation for agriculture promotion in our society and, as our population continues to shift towards an urban demographic, it is the county fair’s responsibility to provide education to the public of the key role that agriculture — and rural communities — will continue to play in our economy and daily lives.”

She noted that fairs not only promote agriculture, but they provide jobs, support rural economic development and local commerce, as well as present opportunities for youth and adult education.

The success of a fair depends upon its volunteers and youth through programs such as 4-H, whether that is livestock, crops, clothing or photography.”

At the Green Lake County Fair this year, attendees will still be able to find their old favorite things to do and eat.

However, new traditions also will start.

“In 2018, we are pleased to announce that the Green Lake County Fair has partnered with Generations Against Bullying (GAB) for an entertaining and fun, family-friendly program called ‘Be Happy! Bullies

Hate It!’ Stars of the program include Wisconsin musician/actress Franki Moscato [born and raised in Omro] and national speaker Michael Turner. The vision of this organization is to bring awareness about the prevalence and devastating effect of bullying in our communities, and inspire children and adults to be upstanders,” Zills said.

The program against bullying will take place Saturday, Aug. 4 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Also new for the fair is a performance by the 50/Fifty Band — Berlin’s only high school band — Saturday from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m.

There also will be the return of Addie the Cow — a life-size fiberglass milk cow that offers fairgoers of all ages an opportunity to experience first-hand how to milk a cow.

These events and a lot more are organized each year by the UW-Extension, which averages just six employees. This year, they only have five.

With the help of many volunteers, Zills is confident that this County Fair will be nothing less than excellent.

“It is hard to believe, but this will be my 15th-fair organizing,” Zills said.

With years of experience and a deep love for the community, Zills and her team is set to bring a grand time to the entire county.

Zills favorite part?

“The fairgoers,” she said. “I love to watch the youth who participate in the fair excited about their own participation and watching the interaction of families and friends enjoying themselves.”

Since 1939, the Green Lake County Fair has celebrated a founding piece of this community.

Let 2018 be its best year yet.