163 years of Walworth County's best as county fair opens Wednesday
ELKHORN In one glorious week, 75 turkeys will be evaluated in the sheep judging ring, dueling lawyers will set aside legal differences to make bluegrass music, antique tractors will pull and models will show off the latest in duct tape fashion.
It's the 2012 Walworth County Fair, the 163rd year of the event.
Wednesday through Monday, the Walworth County Fairgrounds in Elkhorn will feature the best of Walworth County from all walks of life.
"Our fair is not a typical county fair," said Walworth County Fair Board President Ed Sokolowski. "We have the traditional strong agriculture component, but we also have open classes in which anyone can enter just about anything."
Homemade jams, rocketry, photography—you name it, and someone will probably enter it. The only rule is, there are no rules.
The fair also features an event that's as old as the fair, harness racing. Walworth County is one of only four fairs in the state to hold harness racing. This year it has been expanded to three days—Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Despite all the variety and tradition, the entertainment on the Grandstand Stage can mean the difference between average and successful.
"Entertainment is always a key to a successful fair, and we have a great grandstand stage lineup this year," Sokolowski said. "We have a reputation for great entertainment."
Two weeks before the fair, there was concern that the headline entertainer, Wynonna Judd, might have to cancel. Her husband, Michael Scott "Cactus" Moser, who plays drums in her band, lost his left leg following a motorcycle accident. Judd canceled several appearances.
But last week, Judd's publicist emailed the fair to confirm that Judd would take the grandstand stage on Saturday, Sept. 1.
County music singer Chris Young leads off the grandstand performances Friday with rockers REO Speedwagon concluding the main stage performances Sunday.
New events for 2012 include a demolition derby with a $6,000 purse and the duct tape fashion show. Traditional events include tractor and truck pulls including an antique tractor pull at noon Thursday and the Badger State Pull at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Sokolowski wanted to highlight all fair activities, but he kept going back to the grandstand stage entertainment.
"Attendance depends on a lot of factors including the weather and the economy," he said. "We had more than 191,000 in 1990. Last year, we were down a little at 140,600.
"But, the main stage entertainment is a big draw," he said. "That's why we were so glad to hear that Wynonna would be here for her Saturday performance.
"When the phone rings, they want to know about the entertainment," he said. "They are not calling about rabbit judging."
By the way, rabbit judging is Saturday along with goat and poultry judging. The pickle-eating contest is 5 p.m. Friday.