Only two out to be this year's 'Fairest' at Walworth County Fair
If you go
What: Walworth County Fair "Fairest of the Fair" competition
When: Tonight at 5
Where: The Park Stage
Details: Two young women—Maura Wieners of Burlington and Amelia Wills of Elkhorn—will compete to be the face of the Walworth County Fair. The winner will go on to compete at the state level.
ELKHORN The lists of accomplishments are long for this year's Walworth County Fairest of the Fair contestants.
But, that's about the only thing that's long in this year's competition.
Only two women are competing for the crown: Maura Wieners of Burlington and Amelia Wills of Elkhorn.
Both women think the event could be better publicized, and both suggested they would be the people to do that publicizing.
Wills, 18, suggests the Fairest winner send fliers explaining the competition to eligible contestants.
"I don't think it's very widely publicized," Wills said. "Before I dug in and found out when the competitions were, I didn't know what you have to do. Everything happens behind the scenes. I know a lot of people who haven't even seen that. They only see the final contest at the fair."
Competitors write essays, give interviews and meet with each other and with former Fairests to learn the requirements of the contest. The winner gets to introduce the fair main stage entertainment and pass out ribbons to fair contestants.
She also promotes the fair throughout the year at events such as the Walworth County Dairy Breakfast and local parades.
The winner of the local Fairest contest competes with other county winners for the state title.
The fair's timing has a lot to do with the size of this year's contest, Walworth County Fair spokeswoman Sue Pruessing said. Because Sept. 1 is on a Tuesday, Labor Day is as late on the calendar as it can be.
That means the fair is late this year, which is a problem for many college students, Pruessing said. Many of the potential competitors are college freshmen who are not willing to miss school orientation, she said.
Both of this year's contestants will miss some classes. Wills is a freshman at Marquette University, Milwaukee, and Wieners attends UW-Madison.
Some older college students are studying abroad this year and can't meet the requirements for a January time commitment, Pruessing said. The Fairest winners from all counties have three days of interviews in January for the state competition, she said.
Having more or bigger scholarships for the Fairest and runner-up could help boost participation, Pruessing said.
Currently, the Fairest of the Fair earns a $500 scholarship, and the runner-up wins a $300 scholarship, Pruessing said.
Wieners, Wills and the Fairest committee each made themed baskets that will be auctioned during tonight's competition. Proceeds will be used for scholarships.
Wieners thinks she, Wills or both will be good promoters of the competition to boost participation next year.
"I just think that, whoever wins, we will work together," Wieners said. "It should be fun."
Parents: Ed Wieners and Bev Baker
School: Graduated from Burlington High School in 2007. Attends UW-Madison where she hopes to graduate with a degree in animal science.
Activities: Association of Women in Agriculture; Sigma Alpha sorority; Spring Prairie 4-H; Wisconsin Shropshire Association; Wisconsin Junior Hereford Association.
Hobbies: Horseback riding, spending time with friends and showing Hereford cattle and Shropshire sheep.
Work: Courtyard Catering, Burlington; UW Extension Walworth County; UW-Madison Arlington Sheep Research Station.
Quotable: "To me, being the Fairest of the Fair would be a really big honor. I grew up at the fair … I've been going to this fair pretty much all my life. People I knew and looked up to, they got to be the fairest."
Parents: Timothy and Christine Wills
School: Graduated in 2009 from Elkhorn High School. Starts school this week at Marquette University, Milwaukee, where she plans to major in criminal justice.
Activities: Solo & Ensemble participant; manager of the Elkhorn High School girls volleyball team; assistant coach of the First Lutheran School volleyball team; Civil Air Patrol volunteer.
Hobbies: Ceramics; horseback riding and showing pigs.
Work: Walworth County Gymnastics Center, Elkhorn.
Quotable: Other than showing pigs, Wills named "the demolition derby" as her favorite part of the fair.
"For many years, my family has sat up in the grandstands and watched the horse pulls all day just so we could get good seats for the derby. Not that we don't love the pulls, too, but the derby is the last big deal for the fair and a tradition. It is fun just to watch all the drivers having fun and the cars getting smashed up!"