Walworth County Fair primed for 162nd year

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Kevin Hoffman
Monday, August 29, 2011
— Walworth County Fair organizers say attendance at other regional events throughout southern Wisconsin raises hope that turnout will rebound this year from 2010, when the fair had its lowest showing since 1981.

The county's largest annual celebration drew 150,648 in 2010—a 12 percent decline from a decade earlier. Susan Pruessing, public relations manager at the fair, said crowds at the Rock County 4-H Fair and Wisconsin State Fair indicate this could be a rebound year.

The Rock County 4-H Fair had a slight attendance dip this year, partly attributed to inclement weather, but the state fair drew more than 911,000 visitors. That was a 4 percent increase from 2010.

"If the turnout holds true, then we're hoping we can at least stay level if not improve our numbers," Pruessing said.

The Walworth County Fair opens Wednesday and continues through Monday.

Pruessing acknowledged that football season and students leaving for college present a different challenge for the Walworth County Fair.

"I think we're worth one last outing for the family. We have a lot to offer and a lot to do."

For anyone concerned about high midway prices, Pruessing said fair organizers have a solution. The fair offers a variety of specials this year, including discounted carnival bracelets.

Prices for wristbands and ride tickets are set by the midway and not the fair.

Several changes were made this year. The Fairest of the Fair crowning will take place at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, and the harness races will begin at noon Saturday and Sunday.

The fair's theme—"It's a boat load of fun"—inspired a variety of nautical-based events. Wednesday's opening ceremony will feature two refurbished military ducks, which are aquatic vehicles used to carry soldiers over land and water.

A fashion show is scheduled for Saturday, showcasing military apparel. Stands will be located throughout the fairgrounds to collect donations for the Vets Roll program.

Vets Roll, based in Beloit, raises money to provide transportation and services for World War II and Korean War veterans to visit memorials in and around Washington, D.C.

Grandstand entertainment will open with the truck and tractor pulls Wednesday and Thursday and close with the demolition derby.

Three musical performances will headline the main stage through the weekend. Country music group Montgomery Gentry will perform Friday, followed by Rodney Atkins on Saturday. The Doobie Brothers are scheduled to take the stage Sunday.


A documentary highlighting more than a century of the Walworth County Fair will be unveiled this year. Fairgoers will get their first look at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 1, during a special premiere at the Wiswell Center.

The film was directed by Emmy-winner Dean Rowe, who founded Front Row Productions. Fair organizers said they wanted a visual record of the county's largest annual event capturing the sights, sounds and memories from its long history.

About 2,000 DVD copies of "The Great Fair: A History of the Walworth County Fair" will be available for $20 throughout the fairgrounds.

Last updated: 6:00 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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