We talked to some of the people keeping the fair running.
The Wisconsin State Fair may be nearing the end (the last day is Sunday, August 12), but the people who keep it running are definitely not slowing down. What’s it like to work at the State Fair? we wondered. We got some answers.
Or should we say hear Aaron? When walking around the grounds, you’ll probably hear him telling you he knows he can guess your weight and win. He travels around to various state fairs but says, “This is one of my best state fairs. I like the people here. The people are fun here — they’re fun to play with, and most of them don’t mind spending.” Aaron seems happy here, as he says, “My favorite thing is seeing the smile on a person’s face when they win.” And even if they don’t win: “Sometimes we get happy losers.”
When you’re all turned around and lost in the enormous lot that is State Fair, Nancy is the friendly face to help you with all your information needs. She’s been working here for eight years and says what keeps her here is, “My fair family, I love it.” Although she loves many of the attractions she says, “My family tries to get me to go on the Sky Glider but I’m terrified of the heights. I’ve done it before but my eyes are closed and I’m clinging on!”
Kristin and her sister were the brains behind the delicious deep fried olives and fried fruit on offer at the State Fair. “We started with the fried fruit, and then [we realized] olives are a fruit, so we added the olives to the menu.” She says the fried olives they serve are queen green olives stuffed with cream cheese, which you can get with bacon or without. You can dip them in ranch for a “cheesy, crunchy” snack, she added. As for Wisconsin, “Everybody here likes to drink and eat bacon and olives and beer!”
Rachel works at Gift Works Plus, a local company that has been coming to the State Fair for the last 25 years and now fills seven booths throughout the grounds. “People love us at the fair and come see us every year. They’re like, ‘Oh I’ve waited all year to come get my frame!’” Some popular items, besides their collage frames, include aromatherapy supplies and, of course, Green Bay Packer gear.
Believe it or not, Meghan has been showing sheep for “a lot of years…ten years!” She says she’s loved showing her sheep at State Fair so far and that her goal is to just “have fun and do the best that I can. I like the animals, I like doing the work and I have fun doing it.”
If you dare to take a spin on the Giant Wheel (which by the way is 150 feet tall and takes 4 days to set up and 4 days to take down), you could be greeted by Tristian, a recent high school graduate. “A lot of my family are carnivalists,” he says. “I’m a fourth generation carnivalist, and my dad is one of the main supervisors for the ride.” His favorite part of the ride? “I like the lights; when the lights are on at night, there are a bunch of different designs. It’s pretty cool.”
Mark, otherwise known as the mastermind behind the legendary deep fried Oreo, helps run Tootsie’s Fried Dough. Although he travels around the country to different fairs, he says Milwaukee is different, because of “he amount of food. “People love their food in Milwaukee,” he says. Although the stand is known for their Oreos, the deep fried Reece’s Peanut Butter cups sold at Tootsie’s are just as tasty.
Your child probably knows her better than we do. Chloe sells loads of toys and knickknacks at her novelty stand with East Coast Concessions. “We sell all kinds of stuff – basically everything you want and nothing you need is what I go by.” This year, her best seller is the yo-yo ball. “I probably sell around 200 a day,” she says, which makes sense, because she notes that the Wisconsin State Fair is the biggest fair of the year for them.
Although Ron is a 23-year pro at the Minnesota State Fair, he made the right choice coming to the Wisconsin State Fair for the first time this year. Ron sells Australian wear, oilskin clothing and tons of quality hats, ranging from leather to straws made in Colombia. His favorite hat is the kangaroo one that is “nice and light, waterproof leather and packabl — you can pack it up in a bag,” he says.
Today, Lillia is helping her little sister show her cow. “We got them up, washed them and everything,” she says. The sisters showed two weeks ago at the County Fair and hope to sell him to make money for college, as Lillia is a junior at UW-Platteville. She’s been doing this since she was 9 and says, “it’s basically gotten me through college.”