Finding the people who give the Wisconsin State Fair the spirit and energy that has kept it going for more than 150 years.
Another highlight of Wisconsin’s festival season, the State Fair has entice big crowds yet again. Although it’s changed a lot since starting in 1851, the Fair never fails to draw some of the Midwest’s most interesting characters.
We highlighted just a few of this year’s attendees on our Instagram, so make sure to follow us @milwaukeemag for updates throughout the weekend!
HUMANS OF THE STATE FAIR Despite it being their first trip to the State Fair in several years, April and Kelly kept their little ones happy in the 90-degree heat yesterday. “Just water and food, snacks … seems to work,” April says. “We go into the buildings that are cooler.” Of course, Uncrustables Sandwiches and taking a break in the shade to listen to some live music were welcomed as well. Photo by Adam Rogan #humansofstatefair #mke #milwaukeemag #festival #food #family #beattheheat
HUMANS OF THE STATE FAIR Brothers Richard (left) and Rolando (right) are waiting for their parents before their State Fair festivities can begin. They come every year, the Fair becoming a bit of a family tradition for the Milwaukeeans. Although they always enjoy themselves, some visits have been more memorable than others. “Last year I got really sick from the rides because I drank a whole bunch of milk and then I went on the rides; that was a bad story,” Richard admits. “And cheese curds and pizza and all kinds of stuff.” Photo by Adam Rogan. #humansofstatefair #mke #milwaukeemag #festival #carnival #rides #family #fun #food #wisconsin #statefair
HUMANS OF THE STATE FAIR Hobby farmer Jim Ronis of Gleason, Wisconsin, is showing off six of his Belgian draft horses. This is the fourth time he’s competed at the State Fair. Despite all of the festivities, Jim comes to see what his fellow farmers and ranchers are going to display. “With all of the animals here, it’s enough to take care of,” he says. “That’s all I need.” Photo by Adam Rogan. #humansofstatefair #mke #milwaukeemag #festival #farmer #ranching #horses #wisconsin #statefair
HUMANS OF THE STATE FAIR James is an entertainer from British Columbia, Canada, with an act that doesn’t seem entirely believable at first. “My specialty is putting people inside a giant latex balloon,” he laughs. “I’m dead serious.” Using a leaf blower, James expands the 4-inch opening of a Euro-made balloon just enough for people to squeeze through. His record at the State Fair? A family of seven. How he got his start? “I got bored of every other job,” he says. “Started out as a full-time clown, and then I did magic for numerous years, and now the Wild and Crazy Balloon Stunt Show.” Photo by Adam Rogan. #humansofstatefair #mke #milwaukeemag #festival #entertainer #balloons #britishcolumbia #canada #wisconsin #statefair
HUMANS OF THE STATE FAIR We ran into Angie as she was cleaning Frank, one of her family’s sheep. She is helping her two teenage sons show their animals for the sixth straight year at the Wisconsin State Fair. They don’t raise animals themselves, but rather purchase them yearly for their summers of travelling between competitions. “Some people go on family trips. We do showing in state fairs,” she says. “It’s a good way for the kids to save money for college.” Photo by Adam Rogan. #humansofstatefair #mke #milwaukeemag #festival #sheep #animals #collegefund #wisconsin #statefair
HUMANS OF STATE FAIR Butch Marks is the owner of American Parts Equipment Supply, an industrial supply company that was displaying grills (some of which are Wi-Fi controlled) in the State Fair Exposition Center. He also runs a grill and barbecuing store in Germantown that sells nationally acclaimed BBQ sauces and rubs, including victors from the American Royal and Memphis In May International Festival barbecuing competitions. With everything from Texas to Carolina to Kansas City, Butch is still hoping for a Wisconsin style of barbecue someday. “We’d love to see it. There’s so many competition barbecue teams in Wisconsin now that compete around the state, and they compete nationally also. We’re trying to promote that,” he says. “I’ll tell ya, there’s a lot of talented people in Wisconsin that can barbecue. They know their stuff.” Photo by Adam Rogan. #humansofstatefair #mke #milwaukeemag #festival #BBQ #barbecue #grills #texasbbq #kansascitybbq #carolinabbq #americanpartsequipmentsupply #americanroyal #expositioncenter #wisconsin #statefair
HUMANS OF THE STATE FAIR Mike (left), Mick (center) and Mark (right) are The Lounge Wizards. The Wizards have been performing for 21 years, starting when Mark and Mick met in show choir during college. They play all over Wisconsin and now have five State Fair appearances under their belt, one of their favorite and biggest venues. We ran into them at the Sprecher Landing and asked them why they like playing the gig so much. Mark, who told us that he’s a first grade teacher by profession, had a simple answer for why he loves playing the Fair: “Making people happy, that’s it. We get a lot of kids who come up and play with us, just making people smile.” Photo by Adam Rogan. #humansofstatefair #mke #milwaukeemag #festival #music #band #loungewizards #sprechers #wisconsin #statefair
HUMANS OF THE STATE FAIR Jon is from Chicago and joined his mother for a day at the fair. They decided to come to Wisconsin’s State Fair because it was two hours closer than Illinois’ in Springfield. He's is enjoyed himself in his first visit to the 11-day festival and was introduced to a Wisconsin landmark: “The glider is pretty cool. I’ve never seen that anywhere else.” Photo by Adam Rogan. #humansofstatefair #mke #milwaukeemag #festival #Chicago #SkyGlider #wisconsin #statefair