WEST ALLIS, Wis. - The Wisconsin State Fair took a one-year hiatus and overcame challenges, including worker shortages, to make the 2021 event happen. And while rain and storms Saturday, Aug. 7 did put a damper on things, it didn't stop people from enjoying some favorite traditions either.
"We’re having a lot of fun out here, even though it is kind of hot and it did rain on us earlier," said Olivia Greuel. "We are pretty much making the corn here and selling it to people for a couple different charities."
Greuel was with a cheerleading team with the Lions Club of New Berlin, just one organization trying to pull ahead after 2020.
"It’s good, especially because our team needs help getting out of a little bit of debt, so this helps us with that," said Ashley Kudis, also with the team.
The buttered corn is just one of many traditions at the Wisconsin State Fair.
"It’s all about tradition. We are steeped in tradition. We are 170 years old. So, and there’s something for everyone," said Kathleen O'Leary, CEO of Wisconsin State Fair Park. "Agriculture is certainly the cornerstone of what we are."
2021 Wisconsin State Fair
Some traditions span generations.
"My husband’s family has been coming for many years, so, I’ve been enjoying for the last five, but he’s been coming since he was a boy," said fairgoer Kaitlyn Klipstein. "We’re creating a memory because our new baby daughter is here for the first time so we’re just showing her around the fair."
The 170 years of history took last year off for COVID-19.
"It’s a lot of fun, they say, ‘Oh the princess, look at her crown.’ But, seeing all these people out, coming to the Wisconsin State Fair and celebrating all things Wisconsin right here," said Cayley Vand Berg, Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs. "I was crowned the Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs in January 2020, so it’s a long time waiting. Our fairgoers are excited to be back."
People ride giant slide at 2021 Wisconsin State Fair
"No matter what your age, your race, your political persuasion, it doesn’t matter, everyone is welcome at the Wisconsin State Fair and everyone will have something that they love here," O'Leary said.
Organizers hope to come close this year to the $250 million they said they brought to the area in 2019.
"These vendors cannot wait. This is their heart and soul. This is their bloodline," said O'Leary. "Our vendors are elated to be back. The disappointment was so difficult for everyone, the staff, all of the hundreds of thousands, nearly a million people."
The fair hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., except for the final day, Sunday, Aug. 15, when the fair closes at 10 p.m. Any tickets from the 2020 fair that were not refunded are valid this year.