Fairest of the Fair

A platform for agriculture education.

The county fair brings communities together to create a fun environment and celebrate people who make a difference. While most people's experience ends when they leave the fair, for the Fairest of the Fair, the experience lasts the entire year. The St. Croix County Fairest of the Fair has been going on for over 30 years and has given people the chance to grow and promote the fair and the agriculture industry. “Not only advocate for the fair, but we advocate for anyone involved in any aspect of agriculture,” coordinator Shelby Weiske-Krupa says.

The Fairest of the Fair representative has many different responsibilities that focus heavily on promoting the fair.  From May to July, promotion and making connections are the main priorities. “That is typically being involved in parades and then we have our candidates hand out flyers and invite people. It’s a good opportunity for them to show their face and get to know people within the county,” Weiske-Krupa says. In January, representatives attend the Wisconsin Convention of Fairs to run for Wisconsin’s Fairest of the Fair. During these days, participants compete against people from different counties across Wisconsin through stage questions, individual interviews, group interviews, radio spotlights and more. They also volunteer, and in the past, have worked with Operation Christmas Child to collect donated items for children who otherwise wouldn’t receive Christmas presents.

To begin the process of becoming St. Croix County Fairest of the Fair, applicants first submit an application about what they do for the community, how they have participated in the fair and what they do as a profession or student. After that, they go through an interview process where they do a radio spotlight that airs on 95.7 Thunder Country. “The judges listen to that. [Contestants] do an introduction to an event, they do their self introduction, they answer questions in a group and then individual questions,” Weiske-Krupa says.

Katilin Konder, the 2017 Fairest of the Fair, found out about the program when her older sister held the title in 2011. She  had also been showing pigs at the county fair for years and was a member of country dairy judging team. “I love the fair. I’ve always loved the fair ever since I was a little girl,” Konder says. “Now that I’m able to promote it and represent it for a year, it's like a dream come true.”

While the fair and agricultural industry benefit from the Fairest of the Fair program, the representatives do, too. The program offers scholarships to their representatives who are in college and for post-secondary educations. “If they want to take a CPR class, we will fund that for them,” Weiske-Krupa says. It has also strengthened the representatives in different ways. Annamari Haffner, the 2016–2017 representative, says being involved with this program gave her more confidence. “I grew more as a person,” Haffner says. “The confidence to know you have the ability to go out of your comfort zone and make a change in agriculture or at least have a say in agriculture in a way.”

These representatives have become a voice for farmers and the fair industry. “It’s kind of an overlooked concept of a community coming together for a specific event to embrace and support the youth and encourage their dreams and their hopes,” Weiske-Krupa says. “It’s about raising awareness and highlighting those who typically get overlooked.”